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Cape Town - Security has been “beefed-up” in and around Parliament for this year's official opening and state-of-the-nation address.
Shortly before 3pm on Thursday, four hours before President Jacob Zuma is set to deliver his speech in the National Assembly, scores of police officers were present both inside the parliamentary precinct and in the streets around it.
“They weren't happy with last year's security, and they've beefed it up for this one,” a well-placed source, who declined to be named, told Sapa.
The source said SA Police Service top management had raised concerns about security at last year's (2012) opening, prompting increased levels of vigilance at this one.
One result is an increase in the number of metal detectors positioned at all entrances, creating long queues as visitors are asked to empty their pockets before being granted entry.
Last Friday, Zuma informed MPs he had authorised the “employment” of 168 SA National Defence Force personnel for Thursday's opening.
They would be “employed at Parliament, in Cape Town, in co-operation with the SAPS to prevent and combat crime, and 1/8assist in 3/8 maintaining and preserving the law during the opening of Parliament”, he said in a letter sent to National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu, published in parliamentary papers last Friday.
The deployment was from Tuesday to Thursday, and was expected to cost R221 459, Zuma said.
The theme for this year’s state-of-the-nation address is “socio-economic development through oversight and public participation”.
The opening ceremony ahead of the president's address includes a national salute by the ceremonial guard of the SANDF and a military band, a fly-over by the SA Air Force, and a 21-gun salute. - Sapa