Millions intended to be spent on the health needs of Eastern Cape residents have gone missing from d.
LONDON - South Africa's high crime levels should not affect visitors at the 2010 World Cup because crime is concentrated in areas away from the chosen venues, the head of event security told Reuters.
"Where the soccer is going to take place, where the stadiums are, where the police are, there will be low crime levels," said Andre Pruis, deputy national commissioner of the South African Police Service.
Speaking on Thursday on the sidelines of the International Sports Security Summit, Pruis said police stations in more isolated parts of the country are the ones which deal with robbery and sexual assault on a regular basis,
"Unfortunately those stations are in areas really still suffering from the past of our country, in underprivileged areas." In order to tackle security concerns surrounding the World Cup which officials expect to draw 360 000 visitors, the South African government has pledged R3,5 billion to help fight crime.
"During a major event, a country becomes the world," Pruis said, noting that South Africa will be a venue for the world's security problems as well as being under scrutiny itself.
"You import people with their problems," he said, suggesting that security was not just a problem for South Africa, but should be part of an international effort by security services.
Pruis added that the South African government had given him more money than he had asked for out of the R15,1billion budget for the World Cup.
He expects the national police force to build up to 195 000 by 2010 with around 320 000 private security personnel.
South Africa, which hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup, will be the first African country to stage the World Cup.
It will be broadcast to a worldwide audience of 30 billion.
However, with South Africa's poor crime record, the choice of venue for soccer's main event has caused some concern in the international community.
In the 12-month period between 2005-2006, there were 18528 murders, 54926 rapes, and 226942 assaults with grievous bodily harm intended, according to the Department of Safety and Security.
In November, Eric Bost, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said high crime levels could discourage tourists from coming to South Africa.
Pruis said he could understand Bost's concerns but added:
"We had, in a very short period, a spate of robberies...measures were taken and it died down."
South Africa still has the backing of Fifa's president Sepp Blatter, Pruis said.
"Mr Blatter said, when there were rumours that it would be possibly moved to another country, the first choice is South Africa, the second choice is South Africa, and the third one is South Africa. "The Fifa offices are already being set up in Johannesburg, I have absolutely brilliant cooperation with them."
Pruis said South Africa's track record in hosting past events, such as the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the 1999 All Africa Games, should inspire confidence.
"In my mind it must duplicate the Cricket World Cup," he said.
He added that major sporting events had taken place without security problems.
"The stadiums where we will be having the soccer are primarily in the same areas as our cricket stadiums." The matches will take place in 10 stadiums across South Africa and the winning country will be decided in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium, with a capacity of 95 000.
FIFA will approve detailed security plans for the finals in June 2009. - Reuters