Remarks by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa to the Foreign Correspondents Association on the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ security readiness, Melrose, Gauteng
31 May 2010
Chairperson of Foreign Correspondents Association, Mr Kim Nogaard
Members of the Foreign Correspondents Association
Ladies and gentlemen
As the Ministry of Police in South Africa, we firstly welcome some of you to our beautiful country. We further wish to express our appreciation to the Foreign Correspondents Association for this opportunity to engage us this morning.
We want to begin by reaffirming a message we have been reiterating since May 2004, when we won the bid: as South Africa we are confident that the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ will be safe and secure.
Our 2010 FIFA World Cup™ comprehensive security plan has been applauded by security experts from the 31 participating countries and by 188 Interpol member countries. It was submitted to FIFA in June 2008 and presented to security chiefs from all participating countries in Zurich, Switzerland in March this year.
The plan includes South Africa’s approach to addressing terror threats, hooliganism and crime. It therefore leaves no gap or slight margin of error, but concentrates from the pettiest of crimes to the most sophisticated. In essence our approach stems from an attitude that says: it is best to over prepare than being found wanting.
We have dedicated more than 40 000 police officers to secure the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The majority of the police deployed for the tournament are trained officers with experience in major events. Host cities have been divided into sections, with police teams patrolling each section focusing on accommodation, stadiums, fan parks, restaurants and tourist venues.
Our National Joint Operational Centres at both national and provincial levels are now operational from the 26th May 2010. Route security, specifically those leading from airports into the cities, ports of entry and team bases will be a priority. We have dedicated police stations, crime investigation teams and special courts within close proximity to each stadium operating on a 24-hour basis.
In addition, countries competing in the event have already sent their own specially trained police officers to assist with languages and cultural differences and to support the South African Police Service (SAPS). We will also 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 24/7.
As part of our security plan, police and military exercised various simulations across the country with great success. Interpol has set-up an office in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ to assist authorities secure the tournament. Also the Dangerous and Disruptive Persons database developed by Interpol will assist authorities in keeping such persons from entering South Africa.
The regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) security plan was also finalised and cooperation with several countries is underway. Border securities including sea and air security strategies are in place.
Countries competing in the event will send their own specially-trained police officers to assist with language and cultural differences and to support the SAPS. For instance, we have been working closely with other countries around the globe training SAPS in techniques used to deal with possible violent situations in order to protect spectators at the stadiums.
We also warn any would-be hooligan that we will not tolerate any deviant kind of behaviour during the tournament. To emphasise this point, we want to state categorically clear that hooliganism just like crime, is a global phenomenon and that is why we are working closely with those countries where hooliganism is most prominent.
To illustrate this point, the Ministry of Police has signed a memorandum of understanding with UK on broad areas of cooperation relating to safety and security measures. These include preventative measures to be undertaken by the UK authorities, information exchange between the police in both countries before and during the period of the tournament, which includes dealing with hooligans intending to come to South Africa. So we know who they are and have been assured by our UK counterparts that they will not be granted permission to leave UK. However should they sneak out of UK into South Africa illegally, we will be ready for them.
We further want to emphasise that normal police operations in the country will continue; pre, during and post the World Cup. What we appeal to you as media practitioners, is not to exaggerate normal policing which will still continue and associate each crime committed or arrest made elsewhere, to the safety of the World Cup. Such unfounded allegations have potential to unfairly taint the image of the tournament when in fact some of these crimes are isolated and have no linkage whatsoever.
We do not expect both local and international media to be government’s praise singers but urge you report objectively and where we are alerted on any criminal activities, whether by yourselves or society, we will accordingly act with swiftness.
Past experiences have taught us that major international events often present a temptation for criminals to commit crime or terrorists to carry out their evil acts. We are steadfast in our security plans and we will not be distracted in our cause. Any type of deviant behaviour be it criminality or terrorism will be dealt with swiftly and with no mercy.
It would however be folly for any country to grandstand and proclaim that is immune to terror attacks. We are not particularly in the habit of responding to unsubstantiated reports and comments by faceless and spineless persons; however within hours of receiving any rumoured threat, we immediately unleash our intelligence to identify the credibility of such reports.
To date no terrorist acts exist on the safety of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Our preparations have been both proactively and reactively undertaken to overcome any such potential threats because we are to host 31 other nations.
We know of countries, some developing as well as developed countries, where police have to first seek permission from criminals to enter certain jurisdictions. Countries where drug lords ‘own’ these areas. We have no such areas in South Africa. As law enforcement agencies, we are in charge. No drug lord or criminal controls our movements or entries. We neither seek permission nor favour to crush drug empires and criminality, where we suspect their existence.
This is a trend or commitment our South Africans and visitors will still realise during the tournament, as we ensure their safety. In fact Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Denmark are already here and more teams are arriving this week. As a matter of fact, today we are expecting USA. As we speak police are already everywhere, ready for any eventuality. This is the epitome of our security plan; we will cover every corner because we do not have any no-go-areas.
A specific message we want to instill in all our visitors: Police operations alone cannot resolve crime. As tourists you have a critical role to play as well. As they would do in any country globally, we urge them to exercise caution notably when they need general information, to consult the 2010 one-stop information resources which are available across the country.
Every precaution has been taken against international and local terror threats for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Since 2004 we have been working closely with international agencies to gather intelligence, where pro-active and re-active preparations were undertaken to overcome any potential terrorism threat. Law enforcement specialists from all participating countries, including intelligence structures are already in the country.
State-of-the-art information and communications military technology is being used to secure the tournament. The investments you see today and will be seeing during the tournament will continue to assist the police in their crime-fighting initiatives long after the World Cup is over.
Because after all, we still want our visitors to come and experience the beautiful beaches, restaurants, hotels, stadia and the warmth of the people of our land.
During the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002, 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 since then. We hosted these events with major success confounding critics. There was no incident of any security breach.
We successfully delivered close to 150 major sporting events, including the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup™, which served as a good dress rehearsal providing us with valuable insights on any security gaps. Now is the time to deliver on the real thing – and we are ready. We also had our police at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, 2008 UEFA EURO and the 2008 Beijing Olympics to learn from the host countries’ experiences.
As South Africans our hearts, our spirits, minds and bodies will talk, live and breathe in unison towards the achievement of the goal of utilising the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ as a successful and joyous celebration of the beautiful game – for the country, for Africa and indeed for the world.
Together, we will ensure a safe and secure 2010 FIFA World Cup™. South
Africa is ready. We are ready. Feel it, it is here.
I thank you.
Issued by: Ministry of Police
31 May 2010
Issued by: Ministry of Police
31 May 2010
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