Don't play politics, cops warned
Bloemfontein - Police overseeing the ANC centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein at the weekend need to separate their political affiliations from their sworn duty as officers, acting national police commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said on Thursday.
"This event is the first of its kind. We warn you, you might have voted, and might be a card carrying member of a party, but you are still police," he told over 3 000 officers at the Bennies Park police recreation centre in Bloemfontein.
"If I find anyone playing politics, we will deal with you severely."
Mkhwanazi said he was happy with security procedures in place for the centenary.
"We are comfortable and ready to police the events. You officers must focus and keep all members, VIPs, citizens and attendees safe."
He said a no-fly zone had been declared above Bloemfontein.
"We are policing the airspace. No aircraft will be flying here to come and crash into the stadium.
"We are also going to look underground for all those who use the tunnels like a mouse. Those with ill intentions will not be able to come here."
Mkhwanazi warned the officers to be on their best behaviour.
"We need to maintain a perfect image of the police officer. There will be no down time for the event. You are all on duty until the end, so there is no time to drink. We will not tolerate drunk officers."
He said the police presence in the town would be greater than at the climate change COP17 conference in Durban last year.
"In COP17 we had six heads of state. Now, we have 56 VIPs, including... heads of state, or former heads of state," he said.
"We are prepared to protect, and there will be no compromises."
More than 100 000 people were expected to attend festivities in the province, where the South African Native National Congress was founded on January 8 1912. It was renamed the African National Congress in 1923.
The party said all were welcome and no accreditation was needed. The army had been deployed to ensure security, particularly because of the heads of state who had confirmed their attendance.
They included Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.
It was still unclear if former president Nelson Mandela would attend the celebrations.