Foreign soccer hooligans are a bunch of “pansies”, and criminals obviously do not read newspapers.

As for terrorists – they could very well be in the VIP boxes come the World Cup in 2010.

Oh, and we’re going to need a couple of billion rands more to get ready for the soccer.

Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi presented a progress report at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday which showed SA was well on track to meeting its deadlines, many of them well ahead of time, in preparing for the Confederations Cup in June next year, and the World Cup starting in June 2010.

On cue, SA’s burgeoning crime problem was raised with SAPS Deputy National Commissioner Andre Pruis, on hand to answer the sticky questions of international criminals and terrorists, who he describes as “a dynamic list”.

“A person currently on your list of undesirables and hooligans could be in your VIP box come 2010,” joked Pruis.

More seriously, SA security services have set up a task team with numerous other countries, and have even been exporting knowledge to the rest of the world, Pruis said.

He pointed to the South African security handling of the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development, a plan which the UN has now made standard for all their events.

Last week, in preparation for the World Cup, the security cluster, including the police’s task team, reaction force, air wing and specialised troops from the SANDF were training in Bloemfontein.

“One thing I also learnt during the operation was that not all robbers read newspapers,” said Pruis.

A gang of armed robbers, seemingly oblivious to the presence of special forces close by, attacked a cash van in a town close to Bloemfontein, allowing the training to suddenly evolve into a live exercise.

“Unfortunately for some of the robbers they are not with us anymore, and they will not conduct cash-in-transit robberies anymore,” said Pruis in his deadpan way with a heavy Afrikaans accent.

On a roll, Pruis scoffed at the idea of international hooligans upsetting the World Cup.

During his visit to the German World Cup in 2006, Pruis said he had not been impressed by the hooligans, as police in SA had to deal with far more serious situations.

“If they want to come they are welcome,” said Pruis, who said his officers were keen to test their new body armour.

Moleketi warned that cities would have to dig deep, and negotiate their own loans to make up the shortfall – in excess of R2-billion – for the completion of stadiums.

The amount necessary was “something to the north of R2-billion as we speak”, with figures expected to change along with the global cost of goods, he said.

Increases in the cost of oil, steel and imported equipment had contributed to the higher estimates.

But Moleketi laid much of the blame squarely at the feet of the host cities, who had opted for technical and very expensive designs with “all the bells and whistles”.

He called on host cities to take responsibility for the increased costs.

Thus far, the government had spent R6-billion on the construction of stadiums, the bulk of it going to contractors and the rest to professional services, the moneys spent proportional to progress at the stadiums.

The decision to exclude the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth from hosting any Confederations Cup games next year came after great uncertainty about being ready in time. The city had decided on a very complex roof, now being constructed in Kuwait.

This would require hundreds of tons of steel to be put together, shipped to SA, transported to the stadium, assembled and re-erected.

PUBLICATION: The Star
DATED: 14th August 2008