A dozen police officers apprehended a man who flew a radio-controlled mini helicopter over the Pretoria hospital, where former president Nelson Mandela was being treated on Friday.

The multi-copter had a rotating camera and was in the sky for a few minutes. A multi-copter looks like a spider. It has several arms attached to a central control unit. A rotor is mounted on the end of each arm.

As soon as the gadget landed in the hands of one of the controllers, police rushed to the area. Hundreds of people, including journalists, mobbed the officers as they escorted the man and his helicopter into the hospital.

Minutes later, police officers returned and took the gadget's remote control from another man.


The helicopter apparently belonged to FC Hamman Films, a private film company. It was not clear what police did with the man or the helicopter.

According to Reuters Hamman, a South African freelance film-maker, was escorted away by police along with the helicopter camera he was flying with his 21-year-old son Timothy outside the hospital.

"As far as I know, I didn't do anything wrong," Hamman told Reuters by phone from the office in the hospital compound where he was taken by police. He said he was waiting to be interviewed by senior officers and for them to view the footage filmed.

"We were careful not to fly over the hospital," Hamman said.

He said he had intended to offer to media organisations the aerial shots of intense activity around the hospital, where crowds of jostling journalists have mingled with well-wishers paying tribute to South Africa's former black president.

Hamman said he had already used the home-built flying camera in other film projects and had also assisted police with surveillance work in operations against suspected drug-dealers in the Johannesburg suburb of Eldorado.

Police had not so far pressed any charges, he said.

"You can't fly one of those things without a permit," one police officer said at the hospital after Hamman was escorted away. Pretoria police declined to comment further.

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  • Jared - I agree roof or remote landing site would have been more difficult to track

    Surely he must have thought this is bound to attract attention especially from the police

  • i dont understand why he didn't act cleverly and land on a rooftop or even fly from a roof

  • "You can't fly one of those things without a permit," one police officer said at the hospital after Hamman was escorted away. Pretoria police declined to comment further.

     Flying over hundreds of people at that hospital was a irresponsible act. One of the guide lines in the USA for flying RC is to avoid flying over large crowds of people

    I avoid flying over people and property unless I have permission a lot of FPV ignore this and get in trouble.  Had this guy actually told the police what he wanted to do he would have ether been told no or told ok ether way he would be ok with his gear and not in jail. I have flown state parks in the USA with approval  because  I ASK first not just do it.


    Lesson dont fly a RC helicopter around the hospital in Africa where the former president is being treated. Think if you did that to the hospital Boso was at Eric Holder would have called in a drone strike and you would be in GITMO right now !
  • Sounds/looks perfect :)

  • Moderator

    Marvellous, I shall prepare snow capped mountains and coffee. Maybe we could even have a few more flyers around for a meet? I vote the field next to The Bierfassl...

  • haha! :) Gary we're looking good for popping by for a visit, weekend of the 10th August :)

  • Moderator

    I hear he still has not got his equipment back and that its the subject of a meeting in Midrand this morning. But too me that sounds a little too quick for them to have a meeting ;-)

  • not me/us I promise ;)

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