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Land to air, South African security agencies on lookout for drones as world leaders descend on Johannesburg for BRICS Summit

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on a walkabout in the BRICS Summit 2023 precinct in Sandton, Johannesburg (Image courtesy: South African Government)

The South African security and supporting law enforcement agencies are confident of having left nothing to chance in safeguarding the 15th BRICS Summit that begins in Johannesburg from Tuesday.

Over 40 Heads of State – including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Presidents of Brazil, China and hosts South Africa – besides scores of ministers and government representatives as well as local and international dignitaries will be attending the three-day summit at the Sandton Convention Centre which is based in the Central Business District of the Johannesburg suburb.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) led by the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the State Security Agency (SSA) has affirmed their state of readiness to deliver a safe and secure event which is the first in-person gathering of BRICS leaders since 2019.

Assuring “minimal to no incidents of instability and criminality”, a priority committee comprising of various government departments across all three spheres has been working overtime with all relevant role-players to ensure a foolproof security plan that looks at transport, route, venue, accommodation, traffic control, sea, land and airport border security.

High density operations through increased roadblocks, vehicle checkpoints, high police visibility on foot, vehicle, mounted and air patrols are being conducted besides deployment of more police personnel at crime hotspots to ensure heightened integrated crime prevention operations.

A notice to all Airmen (NOTAM) has also been issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority which restricts the airspace within two nautical miles and five thousand feet above sea level to the conference venue from August 22 to 24.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority has also warned of taking strong steps against those who transgress the ‘strictly no drone zone’ in the vicinity of Sandton.

Considering that Johannesburg has a very high crime rate, with threat increasing in central business district after dark, the city’s Police Ministry is taking all measures for the safety of the summit and all its attendees.

“Don’t leave anything to chance as you go about your work in securing this major event that will see around 40% of the world at our doorstep. Keep all those attending the conference safe whilst you continue to strengthen your responses to crime through policing interventions,” local Minister of Police General Bheki Cele said in his address to all the security forces deployed to safeguard the BRICS Summit on Monday.

As the world leaders starting arriving at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, the security agencies have heightened police visibility in and around the conference centre with the aim of preventing and combating any form of opportunistic crime, pre, during and post the BRICS Summit.

The authorities have also made a call to all South Africans to welcome international guests with humility, warmth and care – in the true spirit of Ubuntu – as they have done on many occasions in the past.

Also Read: How BRICS hopes to set the agenda for change driven by the Global South