'We need to guard against threats'

SOUTH Africa is not immune to security threats, says President Jacob Zuma.

SOUTH Africa is not immune to security threats, says President Jacob Zuma.

"These (threats) lead us to undertake a comprehensive review of legislation governing intelligence structures, ethics of work, quality of intelligence product and infrastructure required to be efficient," Zuma said at a ceremony celebrating Intelligence Services Day in Pretoria yesterday.

He said there were plans to improve the capacity of intelligence through an increase in spending on technical capacity and training.

Zuma said the intelligence community should strengthen its existing partnership with the police in fighting crime.

"One issue that must be prioritised is to look into the violence that has accompanied protests in communities."

He said the right to peaceful and democratic protest was recognised by the Constitution and must be defended by the security agencies and all citizens.

"What worries us is the element of violence and destruction to property. We need to know why our people would choose to be violent instead of pursuing their rightful demands in a peaceful manner."

Zuma said the failure to detect these in some quarters was declared an "intelligence failure".

"We expect our services to timeously identify such threats," he said referring to the explosion of xenophobic attacks last year.

"Our detection mechanisms must be sharper and more effective and efficient, without intruding into the lives of citizens unnecessarily.

"The services must fine tune and strengthen the analysis function in order to timeously, accurately and factually forewarn and advise decision makers - these are all critical responsibilities."

Zuma, flanked by State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, unveiled a plaque naming the street leading to the intelligence headquarters after struggle icon Joe Nhlanhla.

The Intelligence Services Day was conceived in 2002 as an annual ceremony to honour and reward intelligence offices who served the nation. - Sapa