Walther (Wally) Rhoode - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
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Title: Walther (Wally) Rhoode
Cape Town International Airport, Cape Town
What all protectors or bodyguards dread most is if the protection operational plan is not according to the script. And working with Madiba this always seemed to be the case. You could brief him on the operational plan and sometimes it would go according to script. But then there were the outside influences, like large crowds and receiving line politicians, who would brief him without informing the protection detail.
During the early days when Madiba visited Cape Town, the ANC Western Cape leadership would mobilise ANC supporters to be at the airport, and given the euphoria surrounding his visits it made planning and securing him difficult.
The hangar where the aircraft landed was within a secure area of Cape Town International Airport, and part of the planning was to secure an area for television camera operators and photographers. But this time the ANC leadership brought supporters with them, and after briefing them he decided to go and greet the crowds.
When tasked with planning, it is important to have information of the receiving line. But while the journalists and leaders were known to us, the crowd was a different issue. You did not know who was friendly or who may have had ulterior motives.
Basically, the adrenalin was high, anxiety levels were high, and radio communication was poor. Crowds such as the one in the really tested your training and provided new lessons for the next assignment. Personally, I was worried that nothing would happen to him as I was responsible for the planning and I knew the country would blame us should anything happen to him.
Quote: "You could brief him on the operational plan and sometimes it would go according to script."
Collection: Moments with a Legend