Fri Aug 01 17:53:01 SAST 2014

Delegates under scrutiny

Dec 16, 2012 | ABONGILE MGAQELWA and THANDO MGAGA |

VEHICLES entering the University of the Free State were subjected to a thorough search as the ANC clamped down on security ahead of the start of its elective conference last Saturday

TENSE: ANC delegates arrive at the Mangaung registration centre in Bloemfontein. Picture byMohau Mofokeng

Members of the police's explosives unit have set up shop at Tempe Military Base, where all vehicles entering the conference venue are subjected to a thorough search before being escorted to the venue on the other side of Nelson Mandela Drive, which is the main road into Mangaung.

A snaking queue of cars formed inside the military base, waiting to be cleared by uniformed policemen, using sniffer dogs to inspect the vehicles both inside and out. Motorists were being asked if they had firearms before going through a body search. Car registration numbers were also being taken down.

Once cleared, each vehicle was escorted inside the venue by police cars with blue lights.

Vehicles belonging to ministers, MECs and other high-ranking officials were given first preference to enter.

Those whose cars were given clearance stickers were told that they would have to go through the same process if they drove out of the conference venue during proceedings. A policeman at the military base, who refused to be named, said they were on 24- hour duty.

He said there was "a lot of tension" hence the beefed-up security this time around.

But ANC spokesman Ishmael Mnisi said this was part of normal security arrangements in place at all ANC conferences.

There were delays in accrediting journalists but delegates were in high spirits, singing songs praising their preferred candidates.

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