Overview: Following the September 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya, the South African Police Service (SAPS) began improving its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States to increase its preparedness for similar terrorist attacks in South Africa. The Crimes Against the State (CATS) unit within the SAPS Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the SAPS Crime Intelligence Division (SAPS CI), along with other South African agencies, productively collaborated with U.S. law enforcement and exchanged best practices to enhance risk management efforts and better identify challenges at its borders. Since publicly acknowledging the presence of ISIS facilitation networks and cells in 2016, the South African government has not publicly provided estimates of the number of South African nationals who have immigrated or returned from ISIS-controlled territories. South Africa is a major international transit hub that has proven an appealing location for terrorists and other criminal networks to facilitate illicit travel abroad.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: South Africa's law enforcement and judiciary used existing legislation to respond to an increased level of terrorism activity. The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act (POCDATARA) criminalizes acts of terrorism, as well as the financing of terrorism, and sets out specific obligations related to international cooperation. The Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act of 1998 applies to nationals who attempt to or who have joined ISIS. The CATS, DPCI, and South Africa's State Security Agency (SSA) are tasked with detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism within South Africa. The SAPS Special Task Force is specifically trained and proficient in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and hostage rescue. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is committed to prosecuting cases of terrorism and international crime. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) protects South African borders from illegal smuggling of goods.

Border security is challenging in South Africa due to its numerous land, sea, and air ports of entry for international travelers. South Africa has multiple law enforcement agencies policing its borders, but they are often stovepiped and inadequate communication limits their border control ability. Counterterrorism measures at the international airports include screening with advanced technology x-ray machines, but land borders do not have advanced technology and infrastructure. Trafficking networks made use of these land borders for many forms of illicit smuggling. Citizens of neighboring countries are not required to obtain visas for brief visits. Regulation of visa, passport, and identity documents remained a challenge within South Africa. The SAPS internal affairs office investigated allegations of corruption within the Department of Home Affairs concerning the sale of passports and identity documents, but the use of illegitimately obtained identity documents continued.

In January, twin brothers Brandon Lee Thulsie and Tony Lee Thulsie, both arrested in 2016 for planning to attack the U.S. embassy and Jewish institutions in South Africa, appeared in court to face charges on three counts of contravening the POCDATARA. As of December, the cases against the Thulsie twins and siblings Ebrahim and Fatima Patel, both charged for having links to ISIS, were ongoing. The Thulsie case is an important test of the POCDATARA and interagency cooperation.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: South Africa is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a FATF-style regional body. South Africa's financial intelligence unit, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), is a member of the Egmont Group. Since FATF published its mutual evaluation report on South Africa in 2008, the country's legal and institutional frameworks for terrorist financing issues have improved, including bank supervision capacity and criminalization of money laundering and terrorist financing activities. In June 2017, President Zuma signed the FIC Act Amendment Bill. The Minister of Finance subsequently amended the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Control Regulations and withdrew exemptions made under the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001 (FICA), effective October 2, 2017. The amendments addressed "threats to the stability of South Africa's financial system posed by money laundering and terrorist financing." Among the amendments, the bill assigns responsibility to the FIC to freeze the assets of persons on UN sanctions lists. The implementation of FICA regulations led FATF to determine South Africa had made enough progress on customer due diligence standards and will no longer be identified by FATF as requiring follow-up. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): There have been no significant changes since 2016.

International and Regional Cooperation: South Africa is a member of the African Union, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and the Southern African Development Corporation.


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