hooligans blocked

BRITISH and South African police have foiled an attempt by English hooligans to sneak into the country for the World Cup via Dubai, the Police Minister said yesterday.

BRITISH and South African police have foiled an attempt by English hooligans to sneak into the country for the World Cup via Dubai, the Police Minister said yesterday.

Nathi Mthethwa also said about 3200 identified hooligans had until today to hand in their passports to British police to prevent them from travelling.

"A month ago some of them (at least 12) were trying to go via Dubai to come to South Africa and both the South African and UK forces were able to nip them," Mthethwa said.

He said about a dozen hooligans were intercepted but would not give details of where they were stopped.

South African officials have said they are working closely with British police to prevent hooligans reaching Africa's first World Cup.

Mthethwa said: "It therefore leaves no gap or slight margin of error, but concentrates from the pettiest of crimes to the most sophisticated."

He said the country's security plan had been applauded by experts from the 32 participating countries and by 188 Interpol member countries.

It was submitted to Fifa in June 2008 and presented to security chiefs in Zurich, Switzerland, in March.

"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 40000 police officers to secure the hosting of the World Cup," Mthethwa said.

"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."

He said National Joint Operational Centres at both national and provincial levels started operating last week. "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 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 the UK on broad areas of cooperation relating to safety and security measures," he said.

South African Police have little experience of hooliganism which does not occur at soccer matches here, and are relying on spotters and intelligence information from European forces.

Mthethwa said there was no substance to a report in the Sunday Times newspaper that chances of a terror attack during the tournament could be as high as 80 percent and that Pakistani and Somali militants were running training camps in neighbouring Mozambique.

"There is no specific terrorism threat to SA as we speak.

"I don't think our intelligence is weak, we are able to challenge anybody with our intelligence," Mthethwa said.

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