Cele shows police World Cup tech

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National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele has shown the public and regional police chiefs some of the R665 million in equipment the police have acquired to safeguard the June-July FIFA soccer World Cup. This is R5 million more than previously disclosed and forms part of R1.3 billion budget.

The spending included six Robinson R44 Raven II helicopters, worth more than R30 million, 10 water cannon, mobile command vehicles, 300 mobile cameras, 54 BMW patrol vehicles, French body armour as well s a R2.7 million bomb disposal robot and bomb disposal suits that cost R400 000 per suit. Cele said not all the technology acquired would be declared, adding that if all was disclosed hostile forces could then take countermeasures.

The remainder will be spent on accommodation, meals, overtime and transportation for deployed security forces. According to previous reports the state will deploy 50 000 security personnel to the World Cup, comprising 31 000 full-time police, 10 000 reservists and 9000 military personnel. The number excluded metro and traffic police. Of the 41 000 police, 9000 would be public order troops schooled in crowd management. Cele Friday gave slightly different figures, saying 44 000 police were dedicated to the soccer spectacular of whom 8500 were allocated to public order policing.

Cele added the National Joint Operational Centre (NATJOC) and Provincial Joint Operational Centres (PROVJOC) for the World Cup would be activated May 15 with full deployment of security forces by May 15. “We are ready to host the world cup not today, not tomorrow but yesterday – that’s how confident we are about our security preparations.
“The significance of today is that we have been talking about these things but we wanted the public to see it, so that they can see it exists, and that we are not just drawing it from the air. This is a very small sample,” said Cele, but it showed the police were ready, not through words but in practice.

On display for the media and the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation was one of the newly acquired, but already used water cannon – they have been in action during recent campus student as well as service delivery protests; some of the French riot body armour, diving equipment, sniper rifles, patrol vehicles and two Eurocopter AS350B3 Squirrel single-engined light utility helicopters (LUH), two of which were acquired at a cost of some R66 million in January. At the time it was said the helicopters were not being acquired on the World Cup budget, but on the police Air Wing budget, although they would obviously be deployed for the event.

Also on parade were officers assigned to the recently created Tactical Response Teams, one of which is being set upin each major centre. These part-time special weapons and tactics-style units are meant to deal with low to medium risk situations too dangerous for conventionally-trained police officers. This includes public order policing. Also present was the medium to high risk National Intervention Unit and the high-risk Special Task Force (STF) that deals with terrorists and cash-in-transit robbery gangs that are normally armed with assault rifles and the like. Cele insisted the STF was among the top three such organisations world wide,this after deputy national police commissioner Lt General Arno Lamoer put them in the top five.

Pic: National police commissoner General Bheki Cele passes a Eurocopter Squirrel helicopter and engages members of a TRT.

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