Four people suspected of being involved in terrorist related activities in Newclare and Azaadville in Johannesburg have been arrested, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said on Sunday.
Hangwani said the arrests followed prolonged investigations by the Hawks and state security into possible terror related activities in the Johannesburg area.
He said the suspects were aged between 20 and 24-years-old. The National Intervention Unit, the bomb squad and other law enforcement agencies aided in the arrests, Hangwani added.
He said the four suspects were identified after they attempted to travel to Syria in 2015. “Investigations showed they intended to join terrorist group Isis,” Hangwani told News24.
According to Hangwani, the Hawks swooped on the suspects’ locations, seizing several items for analysis.
Remain on high alert
Hawks national head, Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza, said the arrests were a “very big step forward in the fight against terrorism”.
“But we cannot say that the problem has been solved. [These] terrorist organisations are recruiting in our country… law enforcement agencies will continue to work around the clock to prevent any form of recruitment on our soil.”
Ntlemeza said authorities would remain on high alert.
“We will diffuse any attempts to form any terrorist groups in our country. Our people should also be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the police,” he said.
Hangwani said two of the suspects would appear at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday facing terrorist related charges, while the remaining suspects would appear at Kagiso Magistrate’s Court on firearms and explosives related charges.