State Security Minister David Mahlobo touched on a range of issues he maintains are affecting national security in South Africa during his budget vote address to the National Assembly earlier this week.
They range from young South Africans being attracted to and volunteering to join Islamic State (IS), the possibility of certain non-government organisations (NGOs) being involved internally in subversive activities, the country’s preparations to successfully defend itself from cybercrime and the planned new regime for border control and management.
He told Parliament that since the establishment of IS, terrorist groups have been evolving.
“Their motivations, financing and support mechanisms, methods of attack and choice of targets are constantly changing through the use of new and sophisticated recruitment tactics and funding methods, as well as attempts at gaining and controlling territory.
“Additionally, the rise of IS has impacted on African terror groups by inspiring young recruits to join their cause as foreign fighters and to emulate the IS model in their respective regions.”
“We remain concerned about the growing incidents of terror on the African continent and the humanitarian and regional security impact it has on countries, including South Africa. We remain concerned by the growing number of South Africans who are associating themselves with these terrorist organisations.
“Domestically efforts continue to be undertaken to identify South African citizens who want to join terrorist groups and to prevent an expansion in this regard. In addition, we are working with certain communities to curb radicalisation and recruitment of our young people on false ideology. Fighting radicalisation is a societal responsibility. We need partnerships between civil society organisations, the private sector and communities to fight this scourge.”
Mahlobo said his department was hard at work on current security threats that require “a deep understanding of the actors and tactics involved”.
“State and non-state actors are hard at work in certain parts of the globe using various roleplayers to promote their agendas while undermining the national security of various countries. These actors are in mass media, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations, foreign multi-national companies, funders of opposition, religious and student organisations, prominent and influential persons running covert intelligence networks to destabilise other countries who do not share a similar view as them.”
On cybercrime the Minister said improving cyber security to create a secure, dependable and reliable cyber environment remained a priority. Development of policies, information sharing, research and development and building capacity were all enjoying attention and institutional capacity has been enhanced by better systems and solutions for the cybersecurity centre and government’s computer security incident response team (CSIRT).
“Illegal migration and the irregular movement of commodities remains a foremost challenge in dimensions of securing and managing South Africa’s borders,” the Minister said adding the vastness of the land, marine and airspace borders compounded by corrupt officials, physical infrastructure weaknesses, inadequacy of technology and poor co-ordination made the challenges even bigger.
In terms of successful operations done by the men and women of the Security Cluster he specifically mentioned the recent seizure of drugs worth R80 million at the Kopfontein border post with Botswana and R54 million worth of heroin confiscated at the Lebombo border post with Mozambique.