SA HAS NO LINK TO afcon ATTACK

CONFIDENT: Makhenkesi Stofile. Pic. Bafana Mahlangu. 10/01/2010. © Sowetan.
CONFIDENT: Makhenkesi Stofile. Pic. Bafana Mahlangu. 10/01/2010. © Sowetan.

THE tragic attack on the Togolese national soccer team in Angola has no bearing on South Africa's security preparations ahead of the World Cup in June.

THE tragic attack on the Togolese national soccer team in Angola has no bearing on South Africa's security preparations ahead of the World Cup in June.

Minister of Sports and Recreation Makhenkesi Stofile yesterday said the linking of the weekend events in Cabinda, in which three members of the Togo delegation died following a rebel attack, to concerns about South Africa's World Cup hosting were "shallow" and "mischievous".

Stofile was addressing reporters after a visit to injured Togolese goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.

Following frenzied reporting in international media putting a question mark on South Africa's World Cup security preparations, Stofile said it was ironic that there were no similar reports prior to Germany hosting the tournament in 2006, as there had been unrest in neighbouring Spain in the run up to that country hosting the tournament.

"The Togo team was ambushed in Cabinda. It's unfortunate that they were caught up in a political problem there. This is not even remotely related to us here, unless those people know something that we don't. As far as we are aware, Angola is an autonomous state and so is the Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa has no authority over them," Stofile said.

Stofile said Obilale - who underwent an operation on Saturday - was under observation and recovering from the procedure. He had been shot in the abdominal area.

"I am pleased that we have a world class facility that is up to the task and will ensure that the young man recovers."

Yesterday Togo's prime minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo ordered the team to return home after they had previously opted to play in honour of their fallen team mates.

Houngbo said if any team were to play under the banner of Togo it would be false representation.

Stofile's sentiments were echoed by 2010 local organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan.

"The attack has nothing to do with us and in any case we have successfully hosted 147 sporting events since 1994 and there has not been one single incident," Jordaan said.

He also said that security was in place to thwart any attack during the World Cup. - additional reporting by Mogomotsi Selebi

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