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Pretoria - The SA Navy and its available frigates played a vital role in security during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, with ships deployed in various coastal towns, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.
“Securing the Soccer World Cup was a multi-faceted task and utilising all service arms and in particular with regards to the maritime side [there were] a number of tasks,” SA Navy Rear Admiral Philip Schoultz said.
“Prior to the World Cup starting we did surveys of each of the harbours to see what the bottoms of the harbours look like so that should some problem occur or change in the harbour we could immediately pick it up.”
He explained that tour operators were also briefed if accommodation became a problem so ships could be turned into “floating hotels” for tourists and people.
The SA Navy worked to secure security during the World Cup. A vessel was at the Cape Town harbour in December 2009 for the final draw for the world cup.
Ships were deployed in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth for the duration of the World Cup, the commission heard.
He explained that “Kwele” was the name given to all activities of the Soccer World Cup, including events that led up to the event like the Confederations Cup.
“From the operational perspective, it started even prior to the Confederations Cup. The preparations and the exercises led up to the event,” he said.
The navy was involved in events leading up to the World Cup as early as 2008, the commission heard.
Schoultz explained the various exercises the different frigates were involved in and spoke about the utilisation of the various frigates.
The commission heard of various exercises that were conducted in Africa, including Namibia and Mozambique.
Apart from securing the coastline ahead of the World cup the frigates also played a role in fighting piracy, Schoultz said.
Schoultz said a frigate was deployed to Table Bay in June this year when American President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle visited Robben Island.
“As a precautionary we pulled a frigate into Table Bay harbour so that if he had to be extracted very quickly from Robben Island for whatever reason, there would be a platform available,” Schoultz explained.
“This was purely a precautionary operation at the request of the presidential protection unit.”
On Thursday, evidence leader Simmy Lebala said Schoultz's testimony, in some instances, might border on “some sensitive confidentiality”.
“For the sake of getting going, when we get there we will have to apply our minds,” cautioned Lebala at the time.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.