Police come under the spotlight after Moses Mabhida Stadium mayhem

Chairman Irvin Khoza of the PSL addresses a meeting of the league's cubs during the Premier Soccer League media conference at Southern Sun OR Tambo International on April 16, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Chairman Irvin Khoza of the PSL addresses a meeting of the league's cubs during the Premier Soccer League media conference at Southern Sun OR Tambo International on April 16, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Irvin Khoza says poor planning by police is partly to blame for the violence scenes that erupted at Moses Mabhida Stadium after a Nedbank Cup semifinal match between Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars on Saturday night.

Several people were injured when angry fans invaded the pitch after Chiefs' 2-0 defeat to Stars and caused damage that could amount to millions of rands.

Khoza revealed that police are often found wanting ahead of major soccer matches and there are times when they simply do not turn up at crucial meetings during the planning stages of the events.

‘‘What has happened is that when there are issues of this nature like on Saturday‚ where the game was medium risk‚ understand that the authority lies with the VOC commander (the Sap’s Venue Operations Centre commander)‚” he said.

‘‘The VOC commander is the only person who can instruct deployment when an incident of that nature happens.

‘‘Now that VOC commander obviously if he has not issued an instruction‚ nobody can move there to give intervention.

‘‘Now when you come to the PSL‚ the club is charged for whatever offence and when you look for reports there is one report that is always missing and that is the report of the VOC commander or of the police responsible for the command and control of the event.

‘‘I understand that in football terms it is the match commissioner who is responsible for this‚ but insofar as the event itself is concerned‚ the VOC commander is in charge in terms of giving direction.”

The South African Police Service (SAPS) responded to Khoza criticism and announced on Monday afternoon that a high level team has been appointed to investigate the ugly scenes that unfolded on Saturday night.

‘‘The office of the Acting Provincial Commissioner did receive a plan for the policing of the match which was informed by the risk categorisation and threat assessment‚” the SAPS statement said.

‘‘We will be probing if the deployment of SAPS‚ private Security Personnel and other security agencies were in place according to the plan and whether those that were deployed to provide security at the event reacted as they were expected to and whether they were in a position to prevent the hooliganism and criminality that unfolded.

‘‘We condemn the actions of those spectators that were responsible for the violent behaviour that we witnessed at what should have been a sporting event.

‘‘Our investigators are working around the clock to identify and bring the perpetrators of the violence to book.”

Khoza‚ who apologised to the nation for the violent scenes at Moses Mabhida‚ suggested that police were failing to implement the recommendations of the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act.

‘‘The Act is there to be implemented‚ who must implement?” Khoza asked.

‘‘We have raised this with the minister and the act is there. All these things should not happen because they are there in the act — who must do what?

‘‘There are exclusions that are there that must be acted upon‚ you know — they are there.

‘‘So who must do that? So as far as the issues that we have raised‚ we should not have all these things.

‘‘Hence the categorisation of matches‚ the deployments (of police officers) that are supposed to take place. Are they sufficient or not?

‘‘All these things are going to be examined‚ especially in Saturday’s games between Free State Stars and Kaizer Chiefs.

‘‘We will go back to the minister and say ’we have raised these things‚ let us go back and check the numbers. Did the numbers fit the level of the risk?'

‘‘And also the pre-assessment and the post-assessment of the risk that has been identified‚ what did we do? Then we look at the solutions going forward.

‘‘But again why are the (issues) not being acted upon because all the things that we are raising are in the Act‚ who must do what.

‘‘They are there and we do not have to reinvent anything. So that is where it is challenging for us as the PSL.”

Khoza declined to comment on the kind of punishment that could be handed to Chiefs should they be found guilty for the crowd trouble.

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