South African police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of workers protesting over pay in the early hours of this morning outside the Durban stadium where Germany had just trounced Australia in their World Cup opener.
Riot police sporting body armour, helmets and guns chased stewards who had earlier been responsible for the security of 62 660 fans from the new Moses Mabhida stadium. One woman was hit by a rubber bullet. She lay outside the stadium for nearly an hour before an ambulance took her away, Reuters reports.
“We were mounting a peaceful protest because they were not paying us what we expected and we were surprised that the police started charging at us. They fired teargas at us,” said one of the workers, Sydney Nzoli. Police blasted teargas as the disgruntled staff, bricks and rocks in hand, rampaged down a Durban highway. Scores of police corralled the protesters before they reached the city centre. After a tense standoff, the workers dispersed.
Meanwhile, Eyewitness News reports police and security forces are patting themselves on the back after Saturday night’s “high priority” match between England and the United States went off without any major incidents. Much was made of the terrorist threat facing the match at Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium because of the teams competing and the presence of US Vice President Joe Biden. Security was tight in and around the stadium, with undercover officers, spotters and crowd management officials deployed to ensure safety. The Air Force and Special Forces were also on standby, EWN reports. The police’s Brigadier Sally de Beer said similar security plans will be in place during upcoming “priority” matches.
In another development, police and immigration officials Friday prevented a 12th known football hooligan from entering SA. The 42 year old male landed in Johannesburg on a flight from Heathrow Airport and immigration officials, reacting to information received from the Crime Intelligence Division, intercepted and detained him, police said in a statement over the weekend. “This individual has a history of inciting racially motivated violence at sporting events. It was thus decided that he would pose a threat to public order and that he should be prohibited from entering South Africa,” the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) said.
In another development, the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS), General Bheki Cele on Friday praised both the police and the National Prosecuting Authority for the speedy arrest, conviction and sentencing of three criminals who robbed foreign journalists at a lodge in the Magaliesburg area early on Wednesday morning. Two of the accused, Bright Madzidzi, 20, and George Magubane, 28, were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment each for armed robbery. A third person, Ndubuisi Odungwa, 20, was sentenced to four years imprisonment for the possession of stolen property.
“I am very pleased that the system put in place between the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to deal with offences relating to the World Cup quickly has proved to be effective”, said Cele. The police assigned dedicated teams of detectives to work on serious crimes directly linked to the World Cup. As the robbery of the three Portuguese and Spanish journalists last Wednesday morning involved the pointing of a firearm, this offence was deemed by police to be of a serious nature, NATJOINTS said in a statement. The NPA established 56 dedicated courts, with assigned prosecutors and magistrates, to process these cases as expeditiously as possible.
“Not only has justice been done in this case, but it has been seen to be done swiftly”, added General Cele. The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthetwa also expressed his satisfaction with the investigation and judicial processes. “It took police no more than 24 hours to arrest these lunatic scoundrels. It further took the justice department no more than 48 hours to sentence them. Now this is what we have been echoing: that we will act with swiftness on any criminality.”
In a further development, another journalist has fallen victim to crime. A New Zealand TV journalist lost equipment, his passport and money overnight Saturday when his hotel room was burgled while he was having dinner in Rustenburg.