Techno-tussle at Mandela hospital

2013-06-28 22:33

Pretoria - A dozen police officers apprehended a man who flew a radio-controlled mini helicopter over the Pretoria hospital, where former president Nelson Mandela was being treated on Friday.

The multi-copter had a rotating camera and was in the sky for a few minutes. A multi-copter looks like a spider. It has several arms attached to a central control unit. A rotor is mounted on the end of each arm.

As soon as the gadget landed in the hands of one of the controllers, police rushed to the area. Hundreds of people, including journalists, mobbed the officers as they escorted the man and his helicopter into the hospital.

Minutes later, police officers returned and took the gadget's remote control from another man.

The helicopter apparently belonged to FC Hamman Films, a private film company. It was not clear what police did with the man or the helicopter.

According to Reuters Hamman, a South African freelance film-maker, was escorted away by police along with the helicopter camera he was flying with his 21-year-old son Timothy outside the hospital.

"As far as I know, I didn't do anything wrong," Hamman told Reuters by phone from the office in the hospital compound where he was taken by police. He said he was waiting to be interviewed by senior officers and for them to view the footage filmed.

"We were careful not to fly over the hospital," Hamman said.

He said he had intended to offer to media organisations the aerial shots of intense activity around the hospital, where crowds of jostling journalists have mingled with well-wishers paying tribute to South Africa's former black president.

Hamman said he had already used the home-built flying camera in other film projects and had also assisted police with surveillance work in operations against suspected drug-dealers in the Johannesburg suburb of Eldorado.

Police had not so far pressed any charges, he said.

"You can't fly one of those things without a permit," one police officer said at the hospital after Hamman was escorted away. Pretoria police declined to comment further.

Despite the cold weather, many people milled around outside Mandela's hospital on Friday evening.

Some were still bringing presents, mainly flowers, and leaving them at a section of the hospital's wall, which had been turned into a shrine to Mandela.

Mandela's family said the former president was still critically ill, but stable when they visited him on Friday.


This was according to Free State premier and ANC chairperson in the province Ace Magashule, who spoke to them at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on Friday.

"They said Madiba is better than any other day. He is fine. They saw him this morning," Magashule told people gathered outside the hospital.

"That is the message that is motivating and inspiring them," he said.

He did not go into Mandela's ward, but visited the hospital to be among the South Africans there.

International media started asking him about the survival of the ANC, the governing party Mandela once led, should he die.

Magashule mentioned the names of previous ANC presidents, such as Albert Luthuli and Oliver Tambo, and said the party was "still standing".

He said there would be prayer meetings throughout the Free State in honour of Mandela, and for Mandela to get well.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said few ANC leaders had been into Mandela's ward to see him.

President Jacob Zuma, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, and the party's treasurer general Zweli Mkhize were the only officials to have visited him.

"All of us have decided not to go to his ward for the reason that we want him to get well," said Mthembu.

Earlier, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula arrived, to join family members Makaziwe and Ndileka Mandela.

Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told reporters in Soweto on Friday afternoon: "From what he was a few days ago, there is great improvement, but clinically he is still unwell."

  • Kathy Faifer - 2013-06-28 23:02

    "You can't fly one of those things without a permit," When are the police going to get it into their brainless skulls that they are not the law, do not make laws, but are there to uphold the law. Since when is it against the law to fly a model aircraft, powered or glider.

      Rudolph Opperman - 2013-06-29 04:46

      Wow Hendrik! I see your sorry a$$ is a little tense this morning!

      Jeffery Stokes - 2013-06-29 07:31

      hahahhah. brainless skulls. Hendrik just showed who actually is brainless. oops.

      Philip Joubert - 2013-06-29 10:25

      Linds, have you got rocks in your head? If a terrorist really wants to blow up a ward, an RPG-7 would be a lot easier. A R60k multi-copter with another R20 of camera equipment is a very difficult way to blow things up. We're one step away from a nanny and police state. This is complete bull.

      Linds Ron-House - 2013-06-29 11:59

      @Phillip, no country in the world will allow you to fly an unidentified object near a seating or retired head of state. Period. The whole Pretoria airspace was shut down for Obama. Be realistic.

      Linds Ron-House - 2013-06-29 16:09

      @Tyronne, Madiba is an icon but there are people who hate him. We resently saw a British MP make very damning statements about Madiba. His views are shared by some South Africans. Ordinarily one would easily gain access to the Pretoria Heart Hospital. But go there now and see if you'd be allowed in without a valid appointment. All cars are searched, which doesn't normally happen. The point is clear - the VIP Protection Unit will take extraordinary measures to protect a VVIP even if the VVIP is an icon like Madiba. You really have to be stupid to think that the police would not take any extraordinary security measures around Madiba.

  • Sean Goldie - 2013-06-28 23:07

    Police don't have a permit to talk $hit don't need a permit to fly one of those for SILLY A$$HOLES PRESUMED STUPID.

      Jeffery Stokes - 2013-06-29 07:32

      I see dumb talking about you. its actually a by-law.

  • Nathan Birkett - 2013-06-28 23:16

    OMF, havent they got criminals to go and catch rather than a guy flying a freaking RC chopper ??!?!?!

      Sekalf Nroc - 2013-06-29 07:52

      Tiego, which forest are you hailing from? btw, a flier is called pilot!

  • Mulalo Van der Ramagoma - 2013-06-28 23:17

    I give up on these vultures by da name of media!!! Y cant they just 4 once leave our hero alone

      Kim Young - 2013-06-28 23:49

      yes you are so right..

      Sekalf Nroc - 2013-06-29 07:55

      what do you want? This is all free marketing for the ANC! Every other government party would have put a stop to this, but here we go - even Winnie gets a chance to talk in front of a camera

      Sekalf Nroc - 2013-06-29 07:57

      Denise, I think you have an issue with your temper - or is it your age/looks which frustrates you?

      Andre Cronje - 2013-06-29 09:30

      So agreed with Denise on that one, go media!

      Andre Cronje - 2013-06-29 09:32

      Sekalf, you assume if he isnt someone hero there is something wrong with that person or his or her temper, so what is it about you that make you react with insults when some doenst share you sentiments?

  • Chris Kleynhans - 2013-06-28 23:31

    I think this is nonsense. Welcome to the police state of South Africa. We are competing with the US to see who can take the most freedom away from its citizens. BTW, who issues permits for octocopters? The police have proven themselves this past year as the ultimate vigilante force.

      Jon Jones - 2013-06-29 07:56

      Wouter wouldn't that be the Department of heli-gupta affairs ?

  • Kim Young - 2013-06-28 23:47

    why dont u people of South africa and overseas leave Madiba and his family alone.. They have enough to worry about. Go and be FREAKIN VALTURES somewhere else..Get a life..Damn All of you..You Journalists are so Ruthless just to get something from Mr Mandela..GO HOME..You people are heartless. give The Family space..

      Leanda Mitchell - 2013-06-29 05:49

      what next? i mean really who does things like this?

  • WildCatSal - 2013-06-29 00:01

    Minature Stealth Helicopter Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche.. What's wrong with these two?

      Steven Steyl - 2013-06-29 07:23

      Probably like saying a silenced monster truck Toyota 66 Ford.

  • WildCatSal - 2013-06-29 00:08

    Betcha they believed Obama was going to pay a visit to Madiba.. Don't believe they intentionally targeted Tata..

  • Phil Mathibe - 2013-06-29 01:05

    Comrades let us respect the Mandela family and the authorities.

  • Morris Karabo - 2013-06-29 01:15

    we want 2 know mandela s health everyday,y u stop the median

  • David Madisha - 2013-06-29 01:36

    I think the hospital where Mr.Madiba is should be decleared as National Musium in the near feature.

      Victor van der Walt - 2013-06-29 03:12


      Victor van der Walt - 2013-06-29 03:13

      Guptas never gave flying or landing rights.

      Kortbroek Du Plessis - 2013-06-29 08:20

      One of these days the guptas will be charging showerhead rent for using Waterkloof oh sorry Guptakloof

  • Coen Venter - 2013-06-29 01:41

    maybe they were scared he will take the hospital down when he fly his helicopter into the building

      Andre Cronje - 2013-06-29 09:39

      Yes i was thinking the same thing, how much of a threat can a little helicopter be seriously, i think that was a brilliant idea for the people to see areal photos of the frenzy.

  • Last Chiwaya - 2013-06-29 02:09

    quite an inovation though he could do beter by alerting the police.

  • Reza Ryklief - 2013-06-29 02:44

    Mandela is a man, an amazing and extraordinary man, but still a man. I'm just getting a bit creeped out that he's being treated as some kind of God.

      Shane Kelly - 2013-06-29 06:22

      Reza i totally agree with you

      Jon Jones - 2013-06-29 08:02

      Reza yep agree with you. I remember in 1994 some people in Cape Town were being interviewed in the street and the reporter asked one young man what he thought of Nelson Mandela. The interviewee was stumbling around for words and eventually settled on 'ek... ek.. ek vat hom vir my God'. Things have never gone too far away from that level of 'worship'.

  • Victor van der Walt - 2013-06-29 03:08

    Ja cant catch the real criminals, the easy taske

  • Victor van der Walt - 2013-06-29 03:12

    Bunch of yahoos.

  • Zip Reeper - 2013-06-29 03:40

    "i have a drone, yes we scan." obama must be having a jawl flying into the waiting arms of his corrupt hosts. he'll probably feel right at home.

  • Sandor Lajos Varga - 2013-06-29 06:07

    And a show must go on !!! What a circus...

  • dedreiv - 2013-06-29 06:32

    Hahahaha!!!!! What permit!?

      Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-06-29 16:40

      @ trekker dude, maybe it was Shucks? New movie in the pipeline?

  • Danie Gerber - 2013-06-29 06:42

    The police are stupid! You don't need a permit to fly a remote helicopter...absolute absurdity LOL

  • Denelene Sederstroom - 2013-06-29 06:53

    If mandela dies,we wil give 99% to the anc even DA wil vote for the anc to respect mandela.answer.

      Rudi Kriek - 2013-06-29 07:39

      Which planet are you living on?

  • Louis Hager - 2013-06-29 07:14

    This is all becomining tired and rediculous.

  • Angela van Greunen - 2013-06-29 07:19

    next we will need a permit to build LEGO

  • Choene Sherley - 2013-06-29 07:30

    lets hope Tata wii be well

  • Edward Ics - 2013-06-29 07:38

    No person who made millions from our tax money csn fall back on the privacy wagon.

  • Mongeli Yengwa - 2013-06-29 07:48

    another landing by the G.....

  • JeanneB - 2013-06-29 08:04

    Thank heavens he wasn't heading to Swaziland on his broomstick. Then the authorities would have had something to worry abour...

  • Gift Chamgwela Chinyati - 2013-06-29 08:07

    yo! tech @ its best

  • Lynda Miracle Masuku - 2013-06-29 08:09

    Image 2: that's a man, not a woman.

  • Anakin Sky-Vader - 2013-06-29 09:21

    I really really want one of those...

  • Charles Jones - 2013-06-29 09:32

    These drone things are going to become a huge problem in the world!better to impose harsh rules now before people get killed....

      John Nicholas - 2013-06-29 10:01

      Remote control aeroplanes have been around since World War 2. Even Marylin Monroe was working in a remote control aerplane factory before she became famous. It's been a hobby for millions all over the world for many decades. I guess they're getting cheaper and more sophisticated, but really I don't know why there's all this concern now where there was none before. Anyone could've strapped a bomb to a remote control aeroplane at any time over the last 50 years.

  • Kaegee Molatseli - 2013-06-29 10:04

    Uhm, it's called a Quadcopter dude, not a "Four-armed helicopter with a central control unit and rotors at the end of each arm"

  • Seanred - 2013-06-29 10:06

    "at Mandela hospital", huh? I thought it was a private/public hospital.

  • Lynn Hattingh - 2013-06-29 11:01

    Why is everyone crapping on the media? This guy is not a journalist but a film maker! He was using a remote controlled plane that has been used in many films that he has made! Eish!

  • HJS - 2013-06-29 11:32

    Never mind the guy playing with a radio controlled chopper. While watching news footage the past few days got me wondering whether that Hospital, which presumably is/was a public facility is now the exclusive domain of the ANC and the Mandela family? Are there still any other patients in the hospital? If so, what about a "golden rule" "SILENCE PLEASE, THIS IS A HOSPITAL". How do other ill patients cope with the constant noise and commotion caused outside the hospital? Do they not have any "rights" any more? If there are still other, paying, patients being treated there, HOW do their family members cope to try and gain entry to visit THEIR loved one? ARE THEY STILL ALLOWED to visit? Suerly having Madiba at a Military hospital would have been a far better option, allowing him and his family more exclusivity without infringing on the rights of "ordinary" people?

  • Neil Alan White - 2013-06-29 11:53

    i have never in my life heard of a permit for a little radio controlled chopper. i have been into many hobby shops and surely if it was necessary you would be notified there

  • Zahir - 2013-06-29 12:07

    anc holding onto mandela as he is the only card they can offer people without mandela anc is nothing but political hyenas eating all our tax and get rich

      Omn Basso - 2013-06-29 19:58

      playing God?

  • Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-06-29 16:39

    Shades of "did yous got a licence?" Platpote strike again. Ya gots ta love the smell of bacon in the morning.

  • Stan Bezuidenhout - 2013-06-29 20:51

    @Sinu: I have it on good authority the Pretoria Hospital WAS declared a National Key Point on account of firstly the fact that Mandela is lying there and secondly on account of the high profile people that are likely (and how have already been to) visit there. Remember - the charge claimed was not about violating restricted airspace around a national key point but rather about "flying without a permit." @Jeffery: What is a by law? Please help us all understand? @Hendrik: All "permits" are issued in terms of some law or regulation. Which would apply in your (weak) analogy? And "a permit is insurance?" Really? Carried by whom? Essentially - yes. If there is a permit needed for a Quadcopter (because you might fly into someone) then what about playing cricket in a park, riding a Scateboard, etc. Sorry bud. I think you're wrong, hey. @Sinu - yes and the US permit ACTUALLY relates to UAV's NOT Remote Controlled Aircraft./ There Is a difference. A UAV essentially "flies itself" and goes out of visual range. So the permits there apply to THOSE. I have actually tried to contact the CAA re Quodcopters. Firstly, their numbers don;t work and secondly none of their e-mail addresses work. If you CAN get hold of them, no one can even tell you WHO is supposed to be "managing" this issue. Again - I am talking about REMOTE CONTROLLED Quadcopters (or any other copters) and NOT about long-range UAV's.

  • Priscilla Otto - 2013-07-01 09:24

    phela the SAPS are fast at minor crimes and harrassing "law abiding citizens". dont be suprised that the whole of Pretoria SAPS is there at the hospital . . . while the police stations are empty.

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