2010 security exercise takes radio jocks hostage

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pretoria - Two of Gauteng's most popular radio personalities were taken hostage on Tuesday in a police and defence force simulation of security threats to the Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

During Exercise Shield 3, Idols judge and 5fm radio presenter Gareth Cliff and Maurice Carpede from 94.2 Jacaranda FM were dragged out of a briefing by two armed masked men and forced into a South African Police Service's (SAPS) Cessna Sovereign Citation jet at Swartkops air force base outside Pretoria.

During the drama, the South African Air Force (SAAF) scrambled two Hawks which intercepted the hijacked plane and forced it to the ground where police vehicles and emergency personnel were waiting to assist the injured.

The hijackers had no option but to give in and land the plane. Fully armed Special Task Force and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members cautiously and strategically surrounded the plane and negotiations began.

After the intensive hostage negotiations, victims were freed and the hijackers were immediately arrested with the help of members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

To avoid unanticipated explosions, police deployed trained dogs to search bags and parcels for any explosives. An armed robot, operated via remote control, was also sent in to thoroughly search the parcels.

Despite the bad weather, the joint exercise between the SAPS, the SANDF, NIA, SAAF and government departments left international reporters, Cabinet ministers and visitors stunned as it revealed South Africa's security skills and readiness for both world acclaimed events.

The thrilling exercise was part of honing security-related skills to ensure a safe environment in host cities and other areas during major events, including securing the national airspace.

Speaking to BuaNews after the exercise, SAPS National Deputy Commissioner, Andre Pruis said the exercise proved that the country's national law enforcement agencies were prepared for any security risks that could arise during the upcoming international soccer events.

He said the safety and security measures employed by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure will leave many surprised.

"We are prepared and we can assure the whole world that our safety and security plans will effectively make South Africa a crime free zone during the 2010 Soccer World Cup and 2009 Confederations Cup."

According to SAPS spokesperson, Director Sally de Beer, the operation is considered to be an excellent training opportunity for the security personnel to be deployed during the two international events.

More than R665 million has been used to purchase essential equipment, including six SAPS new helicopters with systematic cameras, 92 route vehicles and other essential equipment for the Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

During these two events, thousands of security forces will be strategically deployed to every corner of the country to ensure that visitors and citizens are effectively protected.