It is illogical to question South Africa’s safety standards for the World Cup based on the attack on the Togolese soccer team in Angola, 2010 local organising committee (LOC) chairperson Danny Jordaan said on Tuesday.
“We are convinced we’ll deliver the World Cup in an efficient, professional and safe manner,” he told a press briefing at Safa House in Johannesburg.
“The event in Angola is unfortunate [but] has absolutely nothing to do with South Africa and the World Cup. Angola is its own sovereign state with its own military, so if there’s a security breach in Finland we are not going to ask England to explain … it’s illogical and if we apply that, it’s double standards,” he said.
Friday’s attack on Togo’s soccer team in Cabinda, Angola, raised questions in some quarters about South Africa’s ability to host a safe World Cup in June.
Referring to the 2006 Soccer World Cup in Germany, he said the international community would be “applying double standards” if it were to judge South Africa on the Angolan incident, while Germany was not judged based on the 2004 bomb blasts on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, and the 2005 terrorist attack on London’s transport network.
“Angola by flight is three-and-a-half hours from South Africa. We are confident that this event will be one of the best and we should not be asked nor be condemned for what happened in a country that is very far from us.
“If something happens on the African continent, we can’t condemn the whole continent … as much as we did not condemn the whole [of] Europe or even Asia for what is happening in Afghanistan,” he said.
Also addressing the media was the Defence Force’s Lieutenant General Veejay Ramlakan, who said the army was ready to handle all security and healthcare needs for the tournament.
“We have been working non-stop for the past four years planning security. We are ready for any eventuality.”
Ramlakan said 2 500 members of the force would be deployed to provide medical assistance at all World Cup venues, as well as at hotels and other places housing those coming to the country for the tournament.
Reiterating Jordaan’s words, he said it was unfair to judge South Africa on the Angolan incident as there were no separatist movements in South Africa.
“You can draw a list of terrorism movements … there’s none in South Africa. South Africa is not on that list.”
The defence force would be working with other countries to ensure optimum safety. The police would spend R640-million on deploying its officers.
“The South African Police Service has been on an extensive recruitment drive since 2004 to increase general police numbers by 55 000, bringing total police numbers to 200 000 by 2010. The vast majority of the police deployed for the World Cup will be well trained officers with experience in major events and crowd management,” the LOC said in a statement distributed at the briefing.
Friday’s ambush on the bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team killed an assistant coach, a team spokesperson and the bus driver. Eight other people were wounded, among them the team’s goalkeeper, Kodjovi “Dodji” Obilale, who was airlifted to Johannesburg’s Milpark Hospital for treatment. Doctors said Obilale was in a stable condition on Tuesday following surgery. — Sapa