18 March 2009
Two of South Africa’s most popular radio personalities were taken hostage on Tuesday in a police and defence force simulation of possible security threats to the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and 2010 Fifa World Cup.
During “Exercise Shield 3”, Idols judge and 5fm radio presenter Gareth Cliff and Maurice Carpede from 94.2 Jacaranda FM were dragged out of a briefing by two armed masked men and forced into a South African Police Service (SAPS) Cessna Sovereign Citation jet at Swartkops air force base outside Pretoria.
During the drama, the South African Air Force (SAAF) scrambled two Hawks which intercepted the hijacked plane and forced it to the ground, where police vehicles and emergency personnel were waiting.
The hijackers had no option but to give in and land the plane. Fully armed Special Task Force and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members surrounded the plane and hostage negotiations began.
After intensive negotiations, the “victims” were freed and the “hijackers” arrested with the help of members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The police deployed trained dogs to search bags and parcels for any explosives, assisted by an armed robot operated via remote control.
Despite the bad weather, the joint exercise between the SAPS, SANDF, NIA, SAAF and government departments left international reporters, Cabinet ministers and visitors impressed as it revealed the extent of South Africa’s security skills and readiness for hosting world football’s showpiece events.
Speaking to BuaNews after the exercise, SAPS National Deputy Commissioner Andre Pruis said the exercise proved that South Africa’s law enforcement agencies were prepared for any security risks that could arise during these events.
South Africa has spent more than R665-million on purchasing essential equipment, including six new helicopters with systematic cameras and 92 route vehicles, for the Confederations Cup and World Cup.
During these events, thousands of security force members will be strategically deployed to every corner of the country to ensure that visitors and citizens are protected.
Pruis added that the safety and security measures employed by South Africa’s national joint operational and intelligence structure would leave many surprised.
“We are prepared, and we can assure the whole world that our safety and security plans will effectively make South Africa a crime-free zone during the 2010 Soccer World Cup and 2009 Confederations Cup.”