Security agencies confident of safe IPL, elections

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa's security agencies say they have the manpower and the training to safeguard the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the upcoming General Elections.

"We are confident that we have the capacity to ensure a safe and secure environment for the 2009 General Elections to take place freely and fairly and to safe guard the Indian Premier League matches," said Senior Supt Vishnu Naidoo, spokesperson for the joint planning committee for security for the IPL.

Security measures will be put in place for the IPL, which kicks of on Saturday until 24 April, at eight stadia in six provinces to ensure cricket players and fans will be safe.

The games will take place in Gauteng, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and the Northern Cape.

The IPL was originally going to take place in India but after a terrorist attack there last year and an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Pakistan earlier this year the event was moved to South Africa.

The services, including the South African National Defence Force and the National Intelligence Agency, said their ability to safe guard major events has been internationally recognised with 141 international events having taken place in South Africa since 1994 without any serious incident.

South Africa will host four international sporting events this year - the Confederations Cup, the British and Irish Lions rugby tour, the International Cricket Council trophy and the IPL.

They indicated that security measures will be in place at all stadiums and spectators that are unruly or fail to comply with security arrangements will face possible prosecution.

"A zero tolerance attitude to crime or unruly behaviour will be enforced. Certain areas and streets in and around the venues will be closed to traffic during these events," said Supt Naidoo.

They were also confident that, from past experience, both spectators and local communities will co-operate with security forces to ensure a successful tournament.

Police, the army and intelligence agencies are also currently preparing for next Wednesday's General Elections. The elections on 22 April are four days after the IPL starts in the country.

"The South African Security Forces have the ability to handle multiple events in various Provinces," said Supt Naidoo.

Yesterday government issued a stern warning to those who might attempt to disrupt next week's general elections that they will be severely dealt with.

Briefing the media on Thursday, Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko said that no amount of intimidation and violence will be tolerated saying security personnel will be ready to deal with anyone attempting to prevent voters from exercising their right to cast their ballot.

"Government calls on everyone not to allow any attempt to prevent free, fair and peaceful elections in every corner of our country. No amount of intimidation and or violence will be tolerated," he told the media.

Meanwhile the African Union (AU) has sent a 42-strong observer mission for next week's elections.
According to the AU, the primary purpose is to enhance the election process and promote principles of democracy and human rights.

On Election Day, the observers will watch over the voting and counting process at polling stations.

"They will make their interim assessment two days after the elections and then make submissions as results are announced."