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New security standards in SA

Johannesburg: The bare and dare ones planning to streak during next month’s World Cup should think twice as their stunts could cost them up to rand 40000 in fine or two years imprisonment or both. The stringent punishment is part of a security plan — one of the biggest and most sophisticated security operations in the democratic South Africa — was launched Friday.

The plan, akin to a military operation, makes provision for everything — from streakers to heat waves to biochemical terrorist attacks.

It was refined over the past two years to take world events like 9/11 and the findings of the inquiry into the Ellis Park soccer disaster into account. The World Cup security plan provides for offenders to be arrested on the spot and tried within 24 hours.

All World Cup stadiums will become statutory bodies for the duration of the tournament from February 8 to March 25. This means that the stadiums could apply the provisions of the access to public premises and vehicles act.

Traffic will be banned from airspace above the stadiums and heightened security will be in place at airports. The gigantic plan will be put into effect as a joint operation by police, the defence force, several intelligence agencies, at least seven government departments, private security companies, and the cricketing authorities.

The plan will be co-ordinated at national level by the joint operational committee that will meet for the first time on Saturday.

Ben van Deventer, the head of operational planning and monitoring of the South African police service, said every eventuality from hooliganism, crowd control, match fixing to biochemical warfare is covered by the plan.

The plan sets new standards for international sporting events and will serve as example for the rugby World Cup in Australia later this year as well as for the Athens Olympics next year.

It should also prove to the world that South Africa is well-equipped to stage the Olympics and World Cup soccer.

Van Deventer said earlier the security facilities at South African cricketing venues were not up to standard with security personnel having to sit on the pavilion steps at times.

However, new operational centres equipped with the latest technology were set up at all the venues at a cost of r250,000 each since then. These centres will monitor all activities before, during and after World Cup matches.

The expected 25,000 Cup tourists will be issued pamphlets with information about the new security measures at airports and hotels where they will be staying.

According to Deventer, no form of alcohol abuse or drunkenness would be tolerated among spectators. Spectators under the influence of alcohol will automatically forfeit their right to attend any of the matches.

Sharp objects and gadgets like laser projectors will also be banned. The sophisticated World Cup tickets are coded in such a way that anyone trying to use the same ticket twice will be picked immediately. “It is almost impossible to falsify the tickets,” Deventer said.

He advised spectators to carefully read the do’s and don’ts printed on the back of their tickets. He also advised spectators to get to the stadiums half an hour earlier than scheduled because everyone will have to pass through metal detectors.

Roads around the stadiums will also be blocked off and people with valid tickets will be allowed access. All other traffic will be directed to alternative routes.

ICC confirms Zimbabwe ties

In London, ICC president Malcolm Gray confirmed that the six World Cup games in Zimbabwe will go ahead despite political opposition from some countries.

The decision was taken by the 15-member ICC executive board which met via teleconference following a report by a two-member team comprising chief executive officer Malcolm Speed and World Cup organising committee chairman Ali Bacher who returned from Zimbabwe Friday.

“Mr Speed and Mr Bacher visited Zimbabwe to assess the situation. ICC has decided to go ahead with the matches,” Gray said.

Zimbabwe are to play their six league matches in Harare and Bulawayo. The political leadership in Australia and England, who are placed in group A alongwith Zimbabwe, is against their teams visiting the country because of Robert Mugabe’s “unlawful” regime. However, the cricket boards in both the countries have decided to go ahead with the matches. (AGENCIES)

n More World Cup stories on Page 26

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