Pres. Zuma’s personal guard now includes members of the police’s special task force, as well as heavily armed soldiers – an indication the officers responsible for his safety are becoming increasingly concerned about his safety.
The additional protection will be added to the normal personnel of the police’s presidential protection unit (PPU), who are normally responsible for the president’s safety.
This means Zuma’s motorcade now regularly consists of more than 20 vehicles and motorcycles, including a medical van and a separate vehicle for Zuma’s personal military medic.
This is far more than any previous head of state has ever required.
The reasons for the additional security is because the presidency fear there might be a treat to president Zuma’s life. He (Zuma) has been recently making headlines for the wrong reasons so there is fear he might be in danger. Cases like the Nkandla scandal, state capture, the death of his rape accuser, SAA and SABC appointments just to name a few has angered many South Africans and opposition parties.
There was a meeting at Waterkloof Air Force Base two weeks ago, where the new safety measures for the president were discussed.
A reliable source close to the discussion said one of the issues was that four extra task force members and their weapons had to accompany Zuma on flights – in addition to his usual contingent of bodyguards.
This significant amount of weapons and ammunition creates a problem because international aviation regulations stipulate that weapons and ammunition have to be kept apart on international flights.
Guards therefore have to hand in their weapons’ magazines to the pilots, while their weapons are locked up separately.
The impractical nature of this arrangement has meant two teams of task force members have had to be responsible for the president’s safety – one team that takes him to his plane and another that meets him after he has landed.
The sources also said that the protection measures are also applicable to Nkandla where the president spends most of his weekends.
The PPU came under fire during the budget debate in Parliament earlier this year, when the police asked for an additional R2.6 million for protection services.
Opposition members in parliament pointed out that the amount of money being spent on VIP protection services had increased by 50% over the past three years.
The unit is responsible for the protection of the president, deputy president, ministers and other important persons.