Zuma arrives in bullet-proof style

2012-02-09 19:47
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Opening of Parliament

Take a look at politicians and VIPs arriving on the red carpet at the 2012 opening of Parliament.

Parliament - President Jacob Zuma was driven through the wind-swept streets of Cape Town in a bullet proofed security vehicle ahead of his State of the Nation speech in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Streets around the Parliament precinct in the city centre were cordoned off for the event, with large barriers put up to hold back the crowds, which were nowhere to be seen.

Zuma was greeted by saluting navy and army officers and led into Parliament by a cavalcade of police motorcycles and military men on horseback.

Before starting his speech at 19:00, Zuma marched up the red carpet outside the assembly, waving to onlookers who lined the carpet.

Heavily armed police officers patrolled the area ahead of Zuma's arrival, while a helicopter circled overhead.

Journalists, used to covering the annual event complained of being harassed by police officers who ordered them to remain within a roped-off enclosure.

Before Zuma arrived a burly police officer ordered a journalist to stop an interview with an MP.

"This is no place for small talk," he said.

"You don't loiter here. Go do your interview somewhere else."

Earlier a particularly stern police officer warned a journalist who had stepped outside the enclosure to escape the heat of the sun that she should "watch out".

"Get behind the rope," the burly, wide-shouldered, walkie talkie-holding policeman said.

"And don't laugh at me. You don't want to see my bad side."

Joylene van Wyk, the co chair of Parliament's Press Gallery Association, said journalists had been treated like "animals" at the event.

"We are not animals. We know how to do our jobs," she said.

"We walk these cobblestones every day and now we get treated like this."

In one area outside Parliament, fewer than 10 people stood with their eyes fixed on the red carpet inside the precinct, behind a boom gate and a metal detector.

Asked if they were interested in the arrival of the MPs, a woman among the group said: "I'm just waiting for them to let me cross the road."

"They made me close my shop early," a man said.

"When I can cross here I'm going home."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  state of the nation 2012  |  parliament 2012

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