Terrorism advisory issued after couple go missing in Kwazulu-Natal
The kidnapping of two Britons in KwaZulu-Natal spurred the British government to issue a terse travel advisory‚ warning of possible attacks on South African soil.
The elderly couple‚ whose names are known to this publication but have been withheld‚ are understood to have been kidnapped by terror group ISIS near Vryheid in Northern KZN. They have lived in Cape Town for many years.
Several days after they vanished last week‚ Hawks counter-terror operatives swooped on a man and woman they are holding under protracted surveillance.
The suspects‚ Sayfydeen Aslam Del Vecchio‚ 38‚ and Fatima Patel‚ 27‚ remain at the centre of the high-level probe. The two appeared in Vryheid Magistrate's Court on Monday and face charges related to terrorism‚ abduction and possibly murder.
The UK government on Monday updated its online travel advisory for South Africa‚ citing the abduction of the pair.
“Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa. Attacks could be indiscriminate‚ including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in major cities‚” it read.
“The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). In February 2018‚ two South African-British nationals were kidnapped.”
The British authorities advised that South Africans have successfully disrupted several planned attacks and made a number of arrests related to terrorism offences‚ including alleged plots to attack Jewish targets and western diplomatic missions.
“South African authorities have also been effective against right-wing extremists. There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals‚ from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.”
Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha said that owing to the “ongoing investigations and the sensitive nature of the probe”‚ officials were unable to offer comment on details specific to the case.
“The lives of two people are at stake here. Due to operational reasons and ongoing investigations we are not in a position to talk about intricacies related to the case‚” he said.