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15 Jun 2010 16:09
Police are ready to step in should security staff down tools at any of the Soccer World Cup stadiums, the local organising committee (LOC) said on Tuesday.
Police have already taken over security at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town and the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, where guards went on strike in demand of higher wages.
Stallion Security is the service provider for the two stadiums and for Soccer City and Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
“The [South African Police Service] is always in position ... to make sure the security of the tournament is intact,” LOC spokesperson Rich Mkhondo said at a media briefing with Fifa at Soccer City.
Mkhondo said police, Stallion Security and the LOC had agreed that the police would take over security at the affected stadiums until further notice.
“At no time was the security of spectators at risk,” he said.
Guards clashed with police after Sunday night’s game between Germany and Australia in Durban.
The guards overturned refuse bins and hurled objects at police early on Monday morning.
Police fired rubber bullets.
On Monday, guards walked off the job before the match between Italy and Paraguay at the Green Point Stadium.
Mkhondo said the risk of strikes was being “assessed and monitored”.
He said Rea Vaya bus drivers returned to work on Tuesday after striking following a match on Monday.
The bus drivers’ strike left dozens of fans stranded after the game at Soccer City between The Netherlands and Denmark.
Mkhondo said it was up to the host city to make sure there were back-up transport plans in place in the event of another strike.
There were regular meetings between service providers and the organising committee.
Strikes were the legitimate right of workers, Mkhondo said, but “putting the tournament at risk” would not be tolerated.
Fifa happy at attendances
Fifa’s Nicolas Maingot told journalists that there was 92,5% attendance at the first 11 games of the World Cup.
On average, 53 019 spectators had attended each of the games, slightly more than at the World Cup in Germany in 2006 when an average of 52 167 people attended the first 11 games.
On the large number of vacant seats at the stadiums, Maingot said these were a result of group sales. The tickets had been sold, but not printed.
Some ticket-holders, including international ones, had simply not turned up for the tournament.
It was important to “look at the bigger picture”, he said.
“We have now the second highest attendance after the [United States] in 1994.”
He said again that it was too early to draw conclusions, but that Fifa was happy so far.
Jackets, accreditation tags taken
Meanwhile, jackets and accreditation tags were on Tuesday taken from scores of security guards who went on the rampage in Durban on Monday over wages.
Attempts by Stallion Security to cajole security guards to return to work failed on Tuesday morning.
The guards ignored forms they were asked to sign to give an undertaking that they would not withdraw their labour again during the World Cup.
As a result, the company paid them and took their jackets and accreditation tags.
In the afternoon guards were queuing to get R205 for working during the game between Germany and Australia.
Police were at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
It was not clear whether the guards would be allowed to return to work.
While most of the guards were adamant that the strike should continue, some felt it should be abandoned pending negotiations about the dispute.
“I believe that we should wait for negotiations to be concluded. I think that we should work during the game tomorrow [Wednesday],” said Bongani Mqadi, one of the security guards.—Sapa
Natasha Marrian is Mail & Guardian's politics editor. Read more from Natasha Marrian
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