SANDF on standby for Mandela

2013-06-13 09:02
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Mandela hospital update

2013-06-13 08:09

Former President Nelson Mandela spent his fifth day in a Pretoria hospital on Wednesday to treat a recurring lung infection. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is on standby after a top secret contingency plan kicked into gear when former president Nelson Mandela took ill.

Beeld reported on Thursday that it is not clear what the plan entails, but one commander apparently told his troops to keep their cellphones on them at all times and "get their uniforms ready".

Soldiers were warned to prepare themselves about 10 days ago, before Mandela was even hospitalised. Nearly 1 200 soldiers are believed to be involved in the plan.

1 Military Hospital is also on standby should the need arise for him to be treated in an alternative hospital.

Airports ready

Meanwhile, the Mthatha airport and airports around Pretoria have made preparations for at least 2 000 planes landing in the country when the former president dies, according to Beeld.

The Mthatha airport has been managed by the defence force for the past five years, and has been upgraded to the extent that even a Boeing 747 can land on the runway.

The Mthatha airport is expected to see the most traffic and planes may have to let passengers disembark and go elsewhere to park.

A luxury VIP arrival hall has also been added to the airport.

All the upgrades were part of a R55m project that was partly paid for by the department of defence.

It has been generally accepted that the real reason for the upgrade was that Mandela’s home town Qunu is close to the Mthatha airport.

The defence force has also assisted in the creation of facilities and infrastructure such as water and electricity supply in the area.

The army is currently involved in an exercise with the US Army, but there is provision for soldiers to be moved to the Eastern Cape should the need arise.

Read more on:    sandf  |  nelson mandela  |  east london  |  military
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