The recent cyberattack on Transnet’s IT infrastructure has brought to the surface concerns of a wider and more intricate plan for the recent insurrection and unrest.

According to Business Tech and professional services firm PwC, cyber-threats are on the rise in a few major industries in South Africa. According to Senior Research Adviser, Emerging Threats in Africa, ISS (Institute for Security Studies) Pretoria, Karen Allen’s March 2021 article entitled “Critical infrastructure attacks: why South Africa should worry” – “Although South Africa may consider itself an unlikely target for state-to-state attacks, the threat of being collateral damage is real. So too is the danger posed by hacktivists – cyber activists – or lone individuals with criminal intent.”

DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Ghaleb Cachalia MP, made the following statement

‘By connecting the dots of the past week’s failed insurrection, it is becoming increasingly clear that the crippling cyberattack on Transnet’s IT infrastructure was an act of sabotage potentially carried out by the perpetrators of the insurrection.

The cyberattack is consistent with the insurrection’s modus operandi which targeted transport and logistics infrastructure.

As part of their plan to bring the country to its knees, the insurrectionists first targeted Durban’s major transport artery, the N3. Their intention was clearly meant to disrupt supply chains, cause food shortages and whip up public anger.

They then turned their attention to the business sector. By sponsoring the industrial scale rioting and looting in the two Provinces, they forced Transnet to declare a force majeure on the Natcor rail line that connects Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The 688km Natcor rail line links mines and farms in the northern regions of the country to the Durban and Richards Bay ports, where the goods are packed into shipping containers bound for lucrative markets in Asia, Europe and the United States.

It’s clear that after failing to achieve their objectives through these two acts of sabotage, the next logical step would be to cripple the Transnet port system.

Law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities should not waste their time looking for cyber terrorists outside our borders. They are in the country and they may have been the architects of the failed insurrection.

Attacking the country’s major economic infrastructure is an act of terrorism and the leaders of the insurrection must be tried under the relevant terrorism laws.

The insurrectionists obviously took advantage of the clueless security cluster to launch what is easily the most daring attack on the country since the dawn of democracy.

What remains unknown is whether the intelligence report that the Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo, claims to have shared with the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, picked up on this deliberate act to sabotage Transnet.

Minister Pravin Gordhan continues to bury his head in the sand amidst the unfolding crisis at Transnet. Together with the new CEO who was brought in to lead the change process at the SOE, they have a case to answer.

The failure of state security to detect and contain national security threats before they happen speaks to the current crisis in our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This is precisely why DA Leader, John Steenhuisen, submitted a PAIA application yesterday asking Dlodlo to publicly share the intelligence report that she claims to have shared with Cele.’

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