The Republic is working hard with regards to security ahead of the next two important FIFA international tournaments.

The host country for the Confederations Cup and World Cup tournaments are readying themselves in terms of security to prepare for the countless fans that will make their way to South Africa in a week’s time, and again next year.

One of the major concerns expressed by those outside of the host nation is the threat of crime and even terrorism in the rainbow nation. Many World Cup ‘enthusiasts’ will be basing their decision to go to South Africa on whether or not they believe they will be a victim of crime at the event.

Organisers in the country are aware that crime is a sensitive issue for travellers, and they have been working tirelessly to make sure that players, coaching staff and fans will be treated to a fine display of friendly South African hospitality, with crime and other safety issues being controlled by a variety of experts and hard working, well trained security personnel.

Training exercises are constantly taking place in the country to up security measures for the Confederations Cup and World Cup tournament in 2010. The South African Police Services and the South African National Defence Force aim to ensure that both visitors and locals will enjoy a safe and problem free stay in the host cities and national airspace.

Spokesperson Sally de Beer talked about some of the country’s most elite security units who will imitate and act out scenarios and facets of emergency incident plans to defuse any possible airborne threat.

Units include the Special Task Force, the National Intervention Unit, the National Air Wing, the Dog Unit, bomb disposal experts and hostage negotiators, as well as border and ports of entry components.

“The operation is considered to be an excellent training opportunity for the security personnel to be deployed during the FIFA Confederations Cup in June this year and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is just over 12 months away,” de Beer said.

A total of 8,000 members of the security services including South African Police Services, the army, metro police and emergency services, will be deployed in and around the Host Cities during the FIFA Confederations Cup.

At the stadiums and their precincts the Organising Committee will use 3,445 stewards and private security guards. At least 700 stewards and private security guards will be operating on match days. Stewards, who will all be professionally accredited in the security industry, are currently being recruited and trained in the four Host Cities ahead of the tournament.

South Africa is not very different to other places in the world in terms of crime, as all places have bad neighbourhoods which people should avoid or only go to in groups, but most places are relatively safe, and people go about their daily business knowing that the police and security services are working hard to make their country a safer place.

The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute have conducted research on the victims of crime which shows the picture of South African crime as more typical of a developing country. These statistics show that South Africa has lower rates of violent crime than most African and South American countries.

Earlier this year a UEFA delegation were pleased to see that South Africa’s 2010 World Cup stadiums were on course to be completed by October this year and that the country’s transport, safety and fan park plans were also well on track.

UEFA vice president Geoff Thompson commented, “The stadiums look superb and we are also very impressed by the number of security personnel that will be deployed to secure the event and by the country’s track record in hosting major events.”

FIFA and UEFA have shown confidence in South Africa’s safety and security during the tournaments, and it seems that the country will be ready to welcome visitors from all over the globe, making sure that they enjoy their stay in the rainbow nation, in a safe and friendly environment.

Finally, I leave you with a few words from the man that is tasked with making sure that South Africans and visitors to the country are safe during the football extravaganzas that are on the horizon.

Director David Garnett, the senior operations planner for 2010, said South Africans and foreigners alike should feel confident of their safety at any major event. He pointed out that since 2004 South Africa had hosted more than 141 major events and it remained a world leader in terms of managing these. “We are in a position to deal with any contingency. Absolutely anything,” he said confidently. “You are going to be safe; you are going to be secure.”

AUTHOR: Peter Pedroncelli
DATED: 7th June 2009