Pretoria - Rehearsals by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) were yesterday in full swing ahead of the presidential inauguration at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday.
The SANDF promised to stop at nothing to mesmerise more than 32 000 spectators at the swearing-in of president-elect Cyril Ramaphosa.
The national ceremonial guard has already started with rehearsals at the Pretoria Military Sports Club.
The purpose of the rehearsal is to familiarise themselves with the number of steps they will have to take and to time their movement from the entrance up to the end point.
Yesterday, the engineers were still hard at work constructing the main stage on the northern side of the stadium. Chairs and tables were also delivered.
According to the event joint planning committee, the military helicopters will start with rehearsals after the podium has been completed and they know exactly where it was positioned.
“The gun troop, responsible for the execution of the 21-gun salute does not rehearse. They will come to join the final rehearsal on Friday,” the committee said.
“On Wednesday we are going to have an integrated rehearsal at Loftus Versfeld, starting in the morning until the person in charge is satisfied because we have to perfect our movement,” said organisers.
It was said that the execution of military plan would be influenced by the weather on the day.
Despite the weather patterns, the SANDF said it would go all out to wow spectators at the event.
“We are bringing anything and everything that flies. It is the celebration of our democracy. We want to make the people happy. It will be a colourful presentation,” the committee said.
Meanwhile, residents near Loftus Versfeld are bracing themselves for the hustle and bustle during the inauguration.
Traffic is expected to be affected with effect from 3pm on Friday to 10pm on Saturday as roads will be closed off.
Rietondale ward councillor Roelof Fourie said residents in his area were informed about possible inconvenience. Rietondale Park will be used as a park-and-ride area for invited guests.
Fourie said: “I have distributed a metro police notice on different platforms like the residents’ WhatsApp group.”
He said he also relied on word of mouth for disseminating information about the road closures.
Residents living on the roads to be closed needed to obtain permits from Rietondale Club and Loftus Versfeld.
“People that live in and around the area will need permits to drive in and out of their homes. The Woodland Drive, for example, will be closed on both ends but if one needs to drive in and out it shouldn’t be a problem if they have a permit,” Fourie said.