Security ready for Zuma case

2008-07-25 00:00

The South African Police Service has said it is confident security plans in place for the Pietermaritzburg court appearances by ANC president Jacob Zuma on August 4 and 5 are adequate.

SAPS media liaison officer Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said yesterday Pietermaritzburg had “managed very well” during Zuma’s previous court hearing in July 2006.

“The forthcoming court case is no different and the South African Police Service has the expertise to deal with any situation should there be a need.

“In this regard the general public can be assured that the SAPS has the situation under control and their safety will be well looked after,” he said.

Budhram gave the public an assurance that security “will be a priority”, and added that the SAPS has met with all roleplayers and will continue to meet with them to discuss the security of the general public as well as the crowds who are expected to gather at the court.

He said the SAPS will try to ensure, however, that “normal activities” can proceed unhindered outside the immediate vicinity of the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

He urged the public to support all measures that are put into place.

Members of the public, legal fraternities and local businesses have expressed concern at the looming court case, which in 2006 caused a major upheaval.

Many members of the general public, witnesses who were subpoenaed to give evidence in trials and even attorneys and advocates were stopped from entering the court building by marshalls who appeared oblivious at the time to the fact that courts are of necessity open to the public who have legitimate business there.

This year additional fears have been expressed by some over recent allegedly inflammatory political statements such as ANCYL president Julius Malema’s controversial “Kill for Zuma” statement.

Weekend Witness has learned that security plans for this year’s court case are almost a carbon copy of those in 2006 when a security cordon was flung around the high court area, including the closure of several major public roads.

Bomb Squad members are on standby to sweep the court building and surrounds ahead of Zuma’s appearance and will maintain a presence at the scene.

It is also expected that highly trained police snipers will be positioned strategically around the court precincts, ready to react to the first sign of trouble.

Camera surveillance equipment is already in place in the CBD area, and should help to alert the authorities quickly to any disturbances.

Buses are again expected to bring hundreds, if not thousands, of Zuma supporters to the CBD. They will hold night vigils on Sunday, August 3 and Monday, August 4.

Weekend Witness has already reported on plans by the SA Communist Party to “bring the city to a standstill” for at least three days to coincide with the court hearing.

The SACP said the SACP, Cosatu and ANC have the backing of the KZN Taxi Council and Transport Alliance, which will ensure that all public transport is halted, ensuring a complete shutdown.

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