Police used Youth Day to raid a premises in Pretoria where a large group of Argentinian football fans are staying to round up suspected soccer hooligans. Meanwhile, in Roodepoort, two Dutch women were arrested for alleged ambush marketing during a 2010 FIFA World Cup match.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has called the arrests “absurd”, while an embassy spokesman said the possible jailing of the women is disproportionate to the alleged crime.
Police say they raided the Pretoria premises at 7am yesterday after monitoring the activities of the Argentinian fans and identifying several people whose “continued presence in this country could be a threat to public order and stability and could disrupt the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”
Some of the fans had been observed at two matches trying to enter the stadiums without tickets,police spokeswoman Brigadier Sally de Beer says. “They have also behaved in a disorderly fashion on a number of occasions, roughing other fans up and generally causing trouble.”
She says the operation was led by the police’s Crime Intelligence Division, supported by the canine unit, the Public Order Policing Unit of Johannesburg, detectives and officials of the Department of Home Affairs. “During the raid 17 of the 165 fans present were identified as being persons whom the police consider to be undesirable as spectators at matches.” The 17 were then handed over to the National Immigration Branch of the Department of Home Affairs for deportation.
“We are also aware of five other Argentinian fans, whose activities police were monitoring, who voluntarily left the country [yesterday] morning. They too belonged to the group of unruly fans who we believe could have disrupted World Cup matches.”
The two Dutch women were arrested at approximately 08.45am at their accommodation in Roodepoort. They face three possible charges including the Contravention of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1949 (unauthorised use of trade mark at a protected event) and the contravention of sections of the Special Measures Regulations (entry into designated area while in possession of prohibited commercial object), De Beer said.
She says Barbara Jennifer Castelein and Minte Immy Niewpoort were part of a larger group suspected of involvement in organised acts of unlawful commercial activities during the Denmark/Netherlands match on Monday at Soccer City. The women were initially interviewed and then released. Following further investigation, they were arrested.
They appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon and were granted bail of R10 000 each. Both their passports have been confiscated and they are expected to re-appear in the court next Tuesday. “We view ambush marketing in a very serious light and we urge people not to embark on these ambush campaigns,” De Beer says.