Danny Jordaan talks with veteran Reuters football reporter Mike Collett, who has been the victim of two crimes while covering the Confederations Cup.

2010 Organizers Dispel Security Concerns; Confederations Cup Reaches Conclusion

South
Africa 2010 World Cup chief Danny Jordaan and deputy police minister
Fikile Mbalula say security efforts for the Confederations Cup have
been outstanding. They insist a string of isolated incidents should not
be taken out of context.

Both also told a media briefing in
Johannesburg, on the sidelines of the tournament, that perceptions of
South Africa being an unsafe place were outdated and needed
re-evaluation.

“We are very happy with security in general and especially the police,” Jordaan told reporters at a media roundtable Monday.

He
noted there had been thefts from hotels in Germany during the 2006
World Cup and few cities in the world could boast they were free of
petty crimes.

Jordaan said the government had committed about
$130 million to beef up security in South Africa for next year’s World
Cup, including bolstering police numbers, investing in cutting-edge
technology and carrying out surveillance to root out hooligans and
terrorists.

People should visit South Africa without any preconceptions, he said.

“We
want them to experience the country, to see what this country’s
actually about, to see that this country’s determined to achieve, to
see that it wants to be a destination for tourism, for trade, for
business,” he told the group of journalists.
“This country wants to see progress.”

Jordaan
said claims that Johannesburg was a crime capital were inconsistent
with tourist visitor numbers, which had increased by about a million
during each of the last several years. More than nine million tourists
visited in the past year.

Security Incidents Raise Concerns for World Cup

Police
are investigating claims that the Johannesburg hotel rooms of five
Egyptian players were robbed of nearly $2,000 while the team celebrated
its 1-0 victory over Italy. Brazilian team officials claim cash and a
jacket were also stolen from two of their rooms in Pretoria.

Meanwhile,
four British tourists fresh from arriving in Johannesburg to watch
rugby matches were reportedly hijacked by armed men who also made off
with their rental car.

Defending champions Brazil defeated world champions Italy 3-0 in Pretoria Sunday to advance to the semi-finals.

Security and crime remain key concerns
as South Africa prepares to host next year’s World Cup, with an
estimated 450,000 fans expected to visit the country for the month-long
tournament.

Deputy police minister Mbalula insisted the
incidents were isolated and did not constitute a “major breach of
security”. He said any suggestion of a crime wave in South Africa could
not be based on reports of pick-pocketing.

“We are happy to report that there has not been a major breach of security for this tournament,” Mbalula confirmed.
“I
want to salute men and women in blue. They have outdone themselves in
ensuring that everyone
enjoys the Confederations Cup in a very peaceful
manner.”

Mbalula said the incident involving the Egyptians was unfortunate but warned against it being “blown out” of proportion.

He
declined to comment on reports the Egyptian players were partying with
prostitutes in their hotel rooms and that it was those women who may
have stolen from them, claims the Egyptian team have angrily denied.

Both
Mbalula and Jordaan were confronted with fresh examples of security
incidents when veteran Reuters football and Olympics reporter Mike
Collett revealed he had been a victim of two crimes while covering the
Confederations Cup.
 
After Sunday’s match between Brazil and Italy in Pretoria, Collett said that he and a German colleague were
approached in the stadium car park area by two men who demanded cash for “looking after” their vehicle.

They
refused to pay and an awkward standoff with the men continued as they
prepared to drive away. Eventually
the men, who stood in front of the
vehicle, reluctantly left the area.

Jordaan said he wanted to “take the matter up immediately” with Collett, conceding that the events described were of concern.

That
wasn’t the only security issue for Collett; last week he had a run-in
with corrupt cops, as he reported on his blog.
(http://blogs.reuters.com/soccer/2009/06/15/mind-how-you-go-sir-a-lesson-with-the-south-african-police/)

Deputy police minister Fikile Mbalula says there has not been any major breach of security during the competition.

“I was effectively ‘mugged’ by two uniformed police officers
who demanded ‘pounds or dollars’ before they would let me go on my way.
In the end I handed over about £15,” Collett wrote.

Collett
said he was pulled over by the police near Sandton City, north of
Johannesburg, after covering the poorly attended Spain vs New Zealand
match in Rustenburg.

After asking if he had been drinking, the
police officers then proceeded to provide the reporter with directions
to his hotel, which he did not ask for. “After giving me directions
[the policemen] asked me for their money” in a “threatening manner,” he
noted.

Collett said the policemen were very specific about what currency they preferred: “Where are our dollars or pounds, sir?”
“I gave them their cash and they let me go.”

The
Confederations Cup reaches its conclusion this week. The U.S. take on
European champions Spain in the first semi-final Wednesday, with Brazil
playing South Africa Thursday for the other final spot.

The final is staged at Ellis Park, Johannesburg on Sunday.

Written by Anthony Stavrinos

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