Capetown can expect an invasion of elite US security forces when President Barack Obama visits at the end of the month.
Obama will travel to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania from June 26 to July 3 “to strengthen economic growth, investment, and trade”, emphasising “the president’s commitment to broadening and deepening co-operation between the US and the people of sub-Saharan Africa to advance regional and global peace and prosperity”.
The City of Capetown’s decision to bestow the “Freedom of the City” on Obama was opposed by a range of South Africans, including some Muslim organisations.
It is not yet known whether Obama will face protests in Cape Town, but it appears US security agencies are taking no chances - although all foreign visits by US presidents typically include massive security operations.
According to reports, the cost of the entire African adventure is estimated to be between $60 million and $100m (R600 and R1 billion).
The Washington Post reports: “Hundreds of US Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma centre, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency.”
Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the Obamas will stay.
And above Cape Town’s skies, “fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close”.
According to the Secret Service document, Obama will spend a night in Dakar, Senegal, two nights in Jo'burg, a night in Cape Town, and one night in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.