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South Africa's top cop: World Cup will be safe

  • AP, Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:24 AM

South Africa's top ranking police official, National Commissioner Bheki Cele, says that World Cup fans will be safe, and the country will be safer because of the work his force has done to prepare for the tournament which begins in June. Cele said the World Cup’s legacy for police has meant new equipment for his force and training for his officers with experts from Britain, France, Germany, the United States and elsewhere.

The World Cup has focused global attention on South Africa’s crime rate. South Africa’s murder rate per 100,000 citizens was 38.60 in 2006, compared to 0.88 in Germany, where the last World Cup was held four years ago. But Cele said crime was decreasing. He took over last year and says preparing for the World Cup has galvanized his force.

Preparations have included recruiting 55,000 new police officer and new equipment worth about $88 million. About 200 Interpol officers will be in the country during the monthlong tournament, along with up to eight officers from each of the 31 countries sending teams. “The question is, `Will people be safe in South Africa?”’ Cele said. “Starting on the 11th of June, people will be safe in South Africa.”

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