US embassy remains closed

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pretoria - The United States (US) Embassy and offices in South Africa will remain closed for a second day.

Yesterday, the US closed all its facilities in South Africa, including consulates in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, based on information about a security threat received from its regional security office.

Embassy spokesperson, Sharon Hudson-Dean told BuaNews that all visa applications or collections will be done only via an appointment.

The embassy has notified all applicants, whose dates have been affected, to reschedule, she said, adding that they will be given "sooner dates" so that it did not interfere with their arrangements.

Hudson-Dean said that they were waiting for confirmation from security agencies if it will be safe to reopen for business on Friday, a decision that would be known later today.

She couldn't disclose the nature of the security threat. "We are not discussing the nature of the information yet," she said.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson, Nomfanelo Kota, told BuaNews that the ministry knew of the security concerns.

"We have been assured by police and security officials that the matter was receiving the attention it deserved."

Yesterday, National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele said security forces were handling the matter.

He said police were co-operating with US agencies to ensure the safety of that country's establishments in South Africa.

It is the first time that US operations in South Africa have been brought to a standstill by security threats.

The US takes potential threats to its diplomatic outposts in Africa seriously. On August 1998, two embassy bombings, one in Kenya and another in Tanzania, killed a combined 224 people.