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Durban - As Durban gears up for next week’s high-profile Brics Summit, President Jacob Zuma has sent 113 soldiers to the city to beef up security.
This week he told the National Assembly in a letter that he had authorised their deployment to assist the SAPS in “the preventing of crime and maintenance of law and order during the 5th Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) Summit”, being held at the Durban ICC on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The soldiers arrived on Thursday and will be in the city for a week.
The deployment was expected to cost R2 929 298, the president said.
Five heads of state and other VIPs will fly into King Shaka International Airport and be escorted by metro police outriders to their hotels as well as the venue.
Metro police will also man all on and off-ramps to ensure the security of the route, metro police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi, said on Thursday.
“We have extended the deployment and 500 metro police will be on duty,” he said.
The ICC will be cordoned off, some roads will be closed and there will also be an increased police presence in the central business district because some delegates will be accompanied by their spouses.
As with high-powered conferences, a joint operations centre has been set up which includes all the key players: the metro police, SAPS – including such specialist units like the bomb squad – the SANDF and the Roads Traffic Inspectorate.
Heads of State are also bringing in their own security specialists who will liaise with the South African experts.
As well as the big gathering at the ICC, several side seminars will also take place, like the China-South Africa Investment Co-operation Seminar at the Balmoral Hotel on the beachfront.
More than 50 executives of top companies and potential investors from China will be on hand to engage project promoters seeking partnership, trade and investment opportunities.
About 80 percent of the city’s hotels had been booked out for the delegates and the advance teams, Gerhard Patzer, the chairman of the region’s Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa, said on Thursday night.
“These delegates are high-spenders as well, so there will be a lot of spin-offs in terms of shopping and in restaurants. This summit is excellent for us,” he said.
On Sunday, 3 000 members of the public are expected to join 2 000 Brics delegates for a music extravaganza at New Beach which will feature artists such as Hugh Masekela,who will play alongside acts from other Brics countries.
Volleyball and beach soccer courts will also be set up at North, Dairy and Wedge beaches for seasoned players, while newcomers to the sport will also be able to receive coaching tips.