How SA will secure the soccer World Cup - Mthethwa

Police minister says criminality and terrorism will be dealt with swiftly, and with no mercy

We are going to host a successful and secured 2010 Soccer World Cup

In almost five months from now, the biggest show on earth will begin in our country, the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. It is the biggest event of our time and provides a global platform on which the nations and peoples of the world come together to reaffirm our common humanity and destiny.

The Soccer World Cup creates the opportunity, so important in our troubled universe, for all of us to experience the reality that we belong to one human family, regardless of race, colour, gender, age, political and religious belief, and country or continent of origin.

In 2004, when the FIFA Executive Committee decided to award the rights to South Africa to host this spectacular event, the decision was based on our demonstrable ability, commitments and guarantees made that we will deliver the best Soccer World Cup ever and the first on the African soil.

Our belief and confidence was informed by the experience that we have gained in hosting major national and international events since the outbreak of democracy in 1994. Amongst the many events we have hosted since then are the following:

  • Webb Ellis Rugby World Cup in 1995.
  • Soccer African Cup of Nations in 1996
  • Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1998
  • All Africa Games in 1999
  • World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002.
  • Cricket World Cup in 2003.
  • In 2009, we hosted the first Confederation Cup on the African soil.
  •  The British and Irish Lions Tour,
  •  The Tri-Nations Cup, and
  • The lucrative Indian Premier league which was moved to South African for safety reasons.

During the WSSD, which was attended by more than 37 000 international delegates, South Africa pioneered a security model that has been acknowledged as a new international benchmark - and has since been adopted by the United Nations as its model for large events. This is the model we have been applying in all the major events. South Africa also contributed to the security plan for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, with the SAPS being asked to help train police in the Caribbean. We hosted these events with major success confounding critics. There was no incident of any security breach.

Despite this experience and proven track record, the government together with our people we did not rest on our laurels, we wanted to improve and raise the bar further on our record of hosting mega events. In 2006, our Parliament promulgated a piece of legislation known as, the 2010 Soccer World Cup Special Measures Act. This law forms the centrepiece of our efforts to protect all stakeholders in this mega event.

FIFA legal experts commenting on this legislation declared that, in all their experience of preparing for the Soccer World Cup tournaments, they have never seen or known such a comprehensive piece of legislation to have passed into law at such an early stage of the process. Our basis on security is premised on the understanding that promoting mutual friendship amongst the people of the country and nations of the world is paramount to the provision of security.

The Soccer World Cup attracts millions of visitors and puts the hosting nation on the spotlight throughout the world. This placed a huge responsibility on our government together with our people to work doubly harder to ensure the safety and security of our visitors. In this regard, our government and working together with all the stakeholders have developed the most comprehensive security plan for the event. This plan amongst others include the following:

  • South Africa working closely with other international security agencies on the best methods to gather and analyse intelligence information,
  • The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) are on full alert and are thoroughly prepared for all the eventualities during the tournament.
  • To ensure maximum security for the participating teams, each team will be provided with a team of SAPS intervention force members and with the private security. The Police are working closely with the 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) to ensure that the security companies that will be used are people with high level of discipline and integrity.
  • There will be a focus on border security at ports of entry - including South Africa's land, sea and air borders,
  • Route security, specifically those leading from airports into the cities, will be a priority,
  • Police are to divide the host cities into sections, with teams patrolling sections and focusing on FIFA Headquarters, hotels, other accommodation establishments, the stadiums, fan parks, restaurants and tourist venues,
  • State-of-the-art information and communication military technology will be used as well as a fleet of nearly 40 helicopters,
  • A dedicated force of 41 000 officers will be deployed.

An amount of R665-million has been spent on procuring special equipment, including crowd-control equipment, crime scene trainers, helicopters, 10 water cannons, 100 BMWs for highway patrol and up-to-date body armour. About 300 mobile cameras will also be used. There will be four mobile command centres at a cost of around R6 million each.

These centres will feature high-tech monitoring equipment, which will be able to receive live footage from the airplanes and other cameras. These investments are not only meant for the event but, will continue to assist the police in their crime-fighting initiatives long after the Soccer World Cup is over.

The SAPS will spend further R640 million on the deployment of 41 000 officers specifically for the 2010 Soccer World Cup event. Recruitment and event-specific training for this force is under way. It is on a massive recruitment drive to increase general police numbers by 55 000 to over 190 000. The number of police reservists will also double before the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup, from 45 000 members to 100 000. So, by the time the 2010 Soccer World Cup starts, South Africa will have a significantly larger and well-trained police service.

In addition, countries competing in the event will send their own specially trained police officers to assist with languages and cultural differences and to support the SAPS. South Africa will have dedicated 2010 police stations within close proximity to each of the stadiums, as well as dedicated crime-investigation teams and special courts to investigate and deal with all event-related crimes around the clock. A 24-hour multilingual hotline will assist visitors requiring police or medical services.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Security Plan has been finalised and cooperation with several countries has been initiated. Border security and sea and air security strategies are in place. We submitted the comprehensive security plan for the 2010 Soccer World Cup to FIFA on 30 June 2008 - on schedule.

The South African government have invested huge resources both in human and the state of the art technology to complement one another. With the resources at our disposal and cooperation we have received so far, we would be able to know who will be attending what matches. This enables us to plan ahead and thwart evil intentions of the scoundrels even those who were given prominence and hiding places by the media houses. One has been nabbed and will face the full might of the law whilst his accomplice and partner in crime decided to take his own life.

Terrorism is one of the evils that plagued our world today, terrorists are prepared to kill and maimed innocent people. This, we will not allow to happen on our home soil. We are prepared for any eventuality. Any type of deviant behaviour be it criminality or terrorism will be dealt with swiftly and with no mercy. Our task as citizens of this beautiful country is to make sure that our visitors enjoy our warmth, hospitality, and generosity of our spirit and are treated with outmost care. This is what we Africans are known for and this is Africa's time.

We call upon every South African to go out there buy tickets for the matches especially those games that involve our national team Bafana Bafana. As part of mobilising our society, the government declared every Friday to be Football Friday. We call upon our people to put on soccer regalia every Friday to urge on our national team and to create buzz and show support for the soccer spectacular event soon to grace our soil.

We are certain that each and every one of us will do the right thing and spare no effort to ensure that everything necessary is done for a truly successful World Cup. As South Africans, our hearts, our spirit, minds and bodies will talk, live and breathe in unison towards the achievement of the common goal of helping to define 2010 for humanity as eminently the year of the celebration of the fulfilment of the dreams of an entire people about their dignity that has taken centuries to realise.

* Nathi Mthethwa is an ANC NEC member and Minister of Police. This article first appeared in ANC Today, the weekly online newsletter of the African National Congress.

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