- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: FOOTBALL/SOCCER - South African police confident of safe World Cup
- Date: 23rd February 2010
- Summary: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE - 2009) (REUTERS) (THIS MATERIAL WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3) VARIOUS OF SOUTH AFRICA SECURITY FORCES TRAINING ON A PLANE HIJACK SCENARIO VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS COMING DOWN FROM HELICOPTERS SOLDIERS APPROACHING HIJACKED AIRCRAFT
- Embargoed: 10th March 2010 12:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA20OTSC1V8FHRWWSMN9XQUIBOR
- Story Text: South Africa police are confident that the World Cup will be an incident-free tournament.
South Africa is working with international agencies, including Interpol and the U.S.'s FBI, to minimise the threat of terror attacks during the soccer World Cup and was confident of an incident-free tournament, the country's top cop said on Monday (February 22).
Police Commissioner Bheki Cele also told Reuters it was unfair to label South Africa as the world's most violent country, and warned that Brazil, host of the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games two years later, faced greater crime problems.
South Africa hosts the world's biggest single sports tournament from June 11 to July 11 and critics say high crime levels are one of the biggest deterrents for foreign fans.
About 18,000 people were murdered in the 2008/09 financial year -- around 50 a day, which is more than the United States, which has six times the population.
Cele -- who was appointed last year and has called for lethal force against criminals -- said in an interview the number of killings was high but police did not get enough credit for having succeeded in reducing murders for the last six years.
He said 41,000 police would be dedicated to 2010 safety, while 1.3 billion rand ($170.1 million) had been spent on operations and equipment.
"We have bought quite several equipment - water cannons, new aeroplanes, two helicopters, some boats and all other equipment that we could have bought to make sure that 2010 is there." said Cele.
Intelligence and police units were in close contact with international agencies to ensure a safe and terrorism-free tournament.
"Nothing informs us to be terrorist risk, but on the same vein it would be folly and foolish to say we can't look at that, we can't work hard that it doesn't happen," Cele said.
Cele said South Africa's long record of hosting major political and sporting events should speak for itself.
While not on the same scale, these included the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the Cricket World Cup in 2003 and the African Cup of Nations in 1996, he said.
South Africa's government and World Cup organisers have argued that supporters will be safe during the tournament and that foreign media have not been fair in their criticism of crime.
"The intelligence world, they meet with other big intelligence agencies and all that and they are all around here, we get advice, we meet them. They would phone, speak to us other people phone give us wrong information, we check with those countries, especially the Americans, we are working very closely with the FBI and all those kinds of stuff, so the premise is that let's work harder even if it was not going to be there, it should not get the chance if anybody decides to be there," added Cele.
He also said there were no official international statistics to compare crime in different countries, but suggested Brazil would face more problems when hosting the next World Cup and Olympics.
"I would say the crime in Brazil would be the worst, without having stayed in Brazil, I think it is the only country that the helicopter was ever shot by criminals. Usually helicopters are shot in the battlefields out there but not necessarily by thugs," he said, adding in another country police would not even travel to certain dangerous areas.
Suspected drug traffickers shot down a police helicopter in October last year in Rio de Janeiro, prompting the biggest offensive against drug gangs in years.
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