Govt, security forces to conduct 2010 training exercises

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pretoria - Government, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) are to conduct 2010 FIFA World Cup safety and security training exercise ahead of the two international soccer events.

The five-day training also known as Exercise Shield 3, will kick off on Monday, at four stadia and certain airfields around Gauteng and the North West.

SAPS spokesperson Director Sally de Beer said the operation was an excellent training opportunity for those security personnel who will be deployed during the FIFA Confederations Cup in June this year and the World Cup next year.

"This specific exercise is aimed at honing our security-related skills to ensure a safe environment in host cities during major events, including securing the national airspace.

"Some of the most elite members and units within the security forces will engage in simulated scenarios and enact certain aspects of our emergency contingency plans in order to neutralise any form of airborne threat," she said.

The SAPS units to be utilised during this exercise include the Special Task Force, the National Intervention Unit, the National Air Wing, the Dog Unit, bomb disposal experts, hostage negotiators as well as borderline and ports of entry components.

The exercise aimed to ensure the security of the airspace too, and therefore the SA Air Force, in close cooperation with the Air Traffic Navigation Services of the Department of Transport would be included in the exercise.

"These departments will be closely supported by the Civil Aviation Authority and various other elements of the SANDF and government coordination structures, thereby ensuring integrated inter-departmental support to the SAPS," she said.

The Civil Aviation Authority has already issued a Notice to all Airmen (NOTAM) which restricts - but does not ban - flights in certain airspaces in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg.

During the training there will be much aerial activity in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg areas, particularly over the Soccer City, Ellis Park, Loftus and Royal Bafokeng stadiums.

"The activities will be intensive on Wednesday and Thursday with aerial simulations both during the day and night," she said.

The Director urged people residing in those areas to exercise patience. "We regret any inconvenience, especially in terms of noise, that it may cause to some individuals.

"The security forces wish to advise the communities of Gauteng and the North West Province that Exercise Shield 3 is an essential exercise to allow our security forces to merge their expertise to ensure that we can deal with any crime or terror related threat, as well as any natural or non-crime related disaster, during major events," she said.

According to Director de Beer, with the exception of scheduled or State flights, all other aircraft wishing to enter into the stipulated airspace between 16 and 19 March 2009 must conform to the restrictions.

This entails applying for flight authorisation at least 24 hours in advance, submitting a flight plan, being equipped with a transponder and being subjected to a vetting process.

Ms de Beer said effective cooperation will ensure a secure airspace without negatively impacting on the aviation sector.