Johannesburg LGBT+ Pride marches on despite U.S. terrorism warning

By Rachel Savage and Catherine Schenck

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Thousands of people took part in Johannesburg's first LGBT+ Pride march since the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday despite U.S. warnings of a possible terrorist attack in the area.

Marchers sang, cheered and waved flags in Pride colours amid a heavy police presence. The event went ahead without any disturbances.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government said it had received information that terrorists may be planning to conduct an attack targeting large gatherings of people on Saturday in Sandton, the area of Johannesburg where the march took place.

It advised staff to avoid crowds and large public gatherings over the weekend in the area, but it did not specifically say the Pride march would be the target.

"Someone threatening to kill us is very, very scary, but it's not the first time and sadly will not be the last," Lethuxolo Shange, a 24-year-old doctor taking part in the march, told Reuters. "So we're not going to let people terrorise us."

The Johannesburg Pride march was first held 33 years ago. South Africa made same sex marriage legal in 2006 and is still the only African country to do so.

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the United States had not spoken to South African authorities in detail before issuing the attack alert, and the security services said they would provide warnings if they were needed.

(Reporting by Rachel Savage and Catherine Schenck; Additional reporting by James Oatway, Editing by Angus MacSwan)