The surveillance cameras installed by international news agencies outside the Qunu retirement home of former President Nelson Mandela had uninterrupted views of Mr Mandela’s homestead and the family graveyard.
The cameras, erected atop 10 metre high poles directly opposite the entrance to Mr Mandela’s home, were removed by police this week.
According to South African newspaper reports on 15 December 2011, United States news agency Associated Press confessed to installing cameras on property belonging to local chief, Nkosikazi Nokwanele Balizulu. Another camera on the chief’s property was reportedly installed by British news agency, Reuters. Nkosikazi Balizulu confirmed that the cameras had been installed with her permission, but would not say if she had received any payment from AP or Reuters.
The Daily Dispatch newspaper quoted a spokesman for Associated Press denying that the cameras were being used for surveillance, and insisting that they would only be switched on “in the event of a major news story involving the former President”. The AP spokesman added that the agency had made similar preparations outside the Vatican prior to Pope John Paul II’s death.
The newspaper quoted the police saying that the erection of the cameras was illegal.
Contacted today, Mthatha police VIP unit commander Captain Sipika, who is in charge of security at the Mandela homestead, said he was on his way to Qunu for a meeting with Brigadier Gary McClaren, the head of a special task team established to investigate the matter.