, JOHANNESBURG, Dec 15 – International news agencies Reuters and AP set up surveillance cameras outside former South African president Nelson Mandela’s rural home, police and spokesmen for the agencies said on Thursday.
“So far we’ve managed to recover two cameras in a house in the village not far from Mr Mandela’s house,” police spokesman Mzukisi Fatyela told AFP.
“The cameras were put there without the knowledge of his family or the authorities.”
He said both cameras were removed on Monday and that authorities “strongly believe” there are others set up in the village.
South Africa’s Times newspaper said the CCTV cameras had been installed as long as six years ago in the house of a neighbour who lives across from Mandela’s homestead in Qunu, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.
Britain-based Reuters and US news agency the Associated Press (AP) both confirmed they had set up cameras there.
“We did have a camera and it has been removed,” Reuters spokeswoman Joanne Crosby told AFP, declining to comment further.
“The cameras were positioned some time ago, with the knowledge of authorities. The cameras are not turned on. They are not spying on Mr Mandela’s home,” AP spokesman Paul Colford said in an email to AFP.
“They are part of the preparedness that AP and other large news organisations customarily make in the event of a major news story involving a former world leader.”
Anti-apartheid icon Mandela returned to his rural home in June after being discharged from hospital in January for an acute respiratory infection.
The frail 93-year-old’s health has sparked intense national and international media attention.
His last public appearance was during the closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg, where he was wheeled in and waved joyfully to the crowd.
Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and served one term before stepping down in 1999.