When Jacob Zuma steps on to a specially erected podium in the Nelson Mandela amphitheatre at the Union Buildings to take the South African presidential oath of office for the second time on Saturday, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will be overtly and covertly on duty.
The overt duty will be mainly ceremonial with the National Ceremonial Guard and military marching bands at the forefront.
Not so visible will be elements assigned to assist the SA Police Service with security for the inauguration. Invited guests are expected to include any number of heads of state, eminent persons as well as leading South Africans and their safety will be the primary function of specially trained police units backed by high risk SANDF protection teams, said Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton of SANDF Joint Operations.
“Other SANDF assets, including a helicopter specially fitted for medical casualty evacuation, if needed, as well as three others carrying protection teams will also be part of the SANDF deployment for the inauguration,” he said.
Total airspace control over and around the Union Buildings will be in the hands of the SA Air Force (SAAF). Paxton would not be drawn on specific aircraft tasked with this duty but it is likely to include Gripen fighters from 2 Squadron as well as Hawk Lead-In Fighter Trainers from 85 Combat Flying School. Both units are based at South Africa’s “Fighter Town” – AFB Makhado in Limpopo.
At the time of publication no official details had been released of the military aircraft flypast but indications from air force sources are that both types of fighter operated by the SAAF will take part as well as rotorcraft flying the national flag and the flags of the SANDF and its four components – the air force, army, military health service and navy.