Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Police boss plays down World Cup fears

There’s a lot of work to be done between now and 2010 to convince foreigners that the violence they saw on TV won’t happen again.

As for crime, it will still be there – guaranteed - come 2010.

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Andre Pruis, South Africa's deputy National Police Commissioner, is optimistic the 2010 World Cup will be a peaceful success despite the recent wave of ant-immigrant violence.

"South Africa will be safer by the 2010 World Cup, our goal is to lower the crime rate year-by-year by between seven and ten percent," Pruis told a press conference at the South African embassy in Berlin on Tuesday.

Over the last three weeks violence against foreigners across the country has shaken the African nation with at least 56 people killed and more than a thousand arrests.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has already expressed his concern about the recent violence at an executive meeting of football's governing body in Sydney.

But Blatter also backed the South African government to improve the situation by the time the tournament starts in two years.

And in Berlin, Pruis said the situation has been under control since Tuesday morning.

For the 2010 World Cup, South Africa's police force has approximately $192,5-million at its disposal.

And South African's 41 000-strong police force is expected to be boosted by officers from other countries, as in the example of the 2006 World Cup.

"That would be good, because many of our officials cannot speak a foreign language," said Pruis.

And the South African police chief is hoping the 2010 World Cup will generate the same carnival atmosphere enjoyed by thousands of fans at Germany 2006.

"We want the officers to do their job, but not be visible, the party atmosphere should be in the foreground."

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