Police in South Africa have confiscated cameras that were keeping illegal surveillance on the house of the elderly former president of the country and anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela.
Col. Vishnu Naidoo, a spokesman for the police, told British media that they are investigating two media organizations that might have been spying on the 93-year old at his home in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Naidoo said the cameras were discovered in the house of one of Mandela’s neighbors and were filming Mandela’s residence round the clock.
South African media reported that the cameras have been watching Mandela for as long as six years.
When our police got there they discovered that the cameras were indeed there and the house was being constantly filmed, Naidoo told BBC.
The Times Live newspaper of South Africa quoting one of Mandela’s neighbors, a woman named Nokwanele Balizulu, said she permitted two foreign media groups to set up CCTV cameras on her property.
I agreed to having those cameras there, but I'm not going to say anything else, she told the paper.
Naidoo told the media that once the police deliberate with the public prosecutor, they will “determine a way forward.”
Under South African law, Naidoo explained, it's illegal to film or take pictures of the homes of presidents or former presidents.
Naidoo refused to divulge the names of the media companies under suspicion. However, the South African news site Times Live reported that the cameras belong to The Associated Press and Reuters.
A spokesman for AP named Paul Colford told Times Live: They are not surveillance cameras. Along with other media, the AP has preparedness around Mr. Mandela's eventual passing. The AP cameras were not switched on and would only be used in the event of a major news story involving the former president.
Meanwhile, The Nelson Mandela Foundation has refused to comment on the suspected surveillance of the home, according to South African media.
You'll have to call the police and the security agencies on that one, foundation spokesman Sello Hatang told Times Live.
Mandela, who served as president during the 1990s after serving almost three decades in prison during the apartheid regime, retired from public life seven years ago. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 and has been in frail health recently.