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THE Safety of the upcoming World Cup in South Africa should not be linked to the ambush of Togo's soccer team in Angola, Police Commissioner Bheki Cele said yesterday.
Speaking in Pretoria after returning from Angola, Cele gave assurances that security measures were in place to host a safe World Cup in June.
Togo's national team were attacked in Cabinda, Angola, on Friday. The ambush on the team's bus killed an assistant coach, spokesperson and the bus driver.
"We realised (after the terrorist attack) that the gaps that could have been noticed were closed in SA," Cele said.
Referring to the link made to the World Cup after the attack during the Africa Cup of Nations, Cele said: "The mood was a bit down, but immediately it was about 2010. It was a little bit of Cabinda (where the attack took place) and a lot about 2010."
He said the bomb blasts on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, in 2004 and the 2005 terrorist attack on London's transport network had no bearing on the World Cup in Germany in 2006.
"Nobody linked them to the World Cup."
Cele said it was unfortunate that Togo's team, which comprised some players from English club teams, withdrew from the tournament.
"It gives credence to terrorism for officials to say succumb. I would have loved them to continue. There is a history of sport and terrorism."
Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa said it would be unfair to judge SA's preparedness to host the tournament on the "fragility of the political situation" in Angola.
"We are 100percent ready for the World Cup," he said.
Some Togo players had wanted to continue but government pressure forced them to withdraw.
"The final instruction was you will play but not under the Togo flag. They were disowned."
Cele said it was his understanding that the British Football Association had met club owners who wanted to recall their African players.
"It's slave mentality, (it's as) if they own them," Cele said, indicating that even Africans playing for teams abroad were still Africans. - Sapa