The Republic of South Africa lies at the southern tip of the African continent. The population encompasses a variety of races, ethnic groups, religions, and cultural identities. The country has had a turbulent history from early tribal conflicts, colonialisation, the apartheid period, and postapartheid readjustment.
Modern terrorism developed mainly during the apartheid period, both by activities of the state and by the liberation movements that continued to the time of the first democratic elections in 1994, which saw South Africa evolve into a fully representative democratic state with equal rights for all.
Since 1994, terrorist acts have been criminal-based, evolving in the Cape Town area to political acts, largely laid at the feet of a predominantly Muslim organisation, People against Gangsterism and Drugs, a vigilant organisation allegedly infiltrated by Muslim fundamentalists. Along with this, has been terrorist activities, mainly bombings by disaffected members of white, right-wing groups.
In the apartheid era, a Draconian series of laws was enacted to suppress liberation activities. After 1994, most of these were repealed and new legislation was enacted, particularly after the events of 11 September 2001; this legislation allows the government to act against terrorism within the constraints of a democratic system. Disaster management in South Africa has been largely local authority-based, with input from provincial authorities and Civil Defence. After 1994, attempts were made to improve this situation, and national direction was provided. After 11 September 2001, activity was increased and the Disaster Management Act 2002 was brought into effect. This standardized disaster management system at national, provincial, and local levels, also facilites risk assessment and limitation as well as disaster mitigation.
The potential still exists for terrorism, mainly from right wing and Muslim fundamentalist groups, but the new legislation should stimulate disaster management in South Africa to new and improved levels.