27 November 2012

South Africa: Plans in Place to Ensure Safe Afcon Tournament

Pretoria — Government will put in place effective plans to ensure a safe and secure 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu told reporters in Pretoria on Tuesday.

"Everything is in place with regards to security; we started planning [for the tournament] as early as May this year; both national and international screening with regard to all participating 16 teams has been completed.

"Security will be provided to all the participating teams including Bafana Bafana 24/7. We will strengthen security at all ports of our entry during this period, especially our borders, airports, seaports and land ports of entry.

"All the teams will be escorted from the airport to their respective hotels; teams will also be escorted from their hotels to their training venues 24/7 to make sure that they are safe," she said.

Sotyu, who was briefing reporters on the national security state of readiness for the tournament, said permanent police officers would be deployed to all the hotels where the national teams will be staying.

She said Home Affairs was ready to handle the movement of both people and goods at the ports of entry.

"We also have our own police officers that we've trained with regard to assistance at the ports of entry in case we need more man power.

"Buses carrying players will be escorted by the police all the times; each and every movement of the buses carrying the teams will be provided with security by the police," she said.

With regard to criminal cases during the tournament, Sotyu said this time around, unlike during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, there won't be special courts for criminal activities, but they have dedicated investigators who will focus on the cases that will happen during the tournament.

While there would be the normal procedure of handling the cases, the deputy minister said criminal cases committed during the tournament will always be prioritised in the courts of law.

Sotyu also emphasised that the police were going to make sure that they control the crowd in and outside the stadia.

Her sentiments were echoed by the chairperson of the National Joint Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, who said part of their security concept to effectively deal with any form of hooliganism in the stadia was also in place.

"Part of our security concept to deal with hooliganism in and around the stadiums includes ensuring that we put 'spotters' amongst the spectators to identity the so-called hooligans, remove them from the stadium and take them to police custody.

"We will ensure that the intelligence community that we are working with in the region, through the Southern African Regional Police Chief Council Organisation (SARPCCO) and Interpol, will also assist us with the movement of the people who will be coming to our country for the tournament," he said.

SARPCCO is an official forum comprising all the police chiefs from Southern Africa.

General Mawela said some of the people who were known from the neighbouring countries as the so-called football hooligans will be dealt with before they arrive in South Africa.

"We are not going to drop the standards which we've created in dealing with all the major events that we host in our country," he said.

In case the security guards, who will be working at the stadia, decide to embark on an illegal strike like they did during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, General Mawela said: "We have plan D and even plan E.

"We have a reserve group at a national level who can be moved around the country at any given time and we also have the contingency funds whereby we will ensure that people will be moved around head office to whatever affected stadium. We will never have any problem with regards to this issue."

South Africa will host the tournament from 19 January to 10 February 2013.

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