CCTV footage assists police in Egyptian case

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Close Circuit Television (CCTV) footage has assisted in ruling out the possibility that mystery women or hotel staff could have been responsible for the alleged theft of cash from the Egyptian football team about two weeks ago.

It was alleged that on 18 June, five members of the Egyptian national team had lost $2 500 from their hotel rooms while the team was playing against Italy in a Confederations Cup match at Ellis Park Stadium, in Johannesburg.

Shortly after the alleged theft, certain media houses published stories alleging that mystery women who were entertaining the football team, could have been responsible for the theft.

Briefing journalists on Monday on the Confederations Cup security operations, Deputy National Police Commissioner, Andre Pruis said: "No suspect has been identified and the hotel staff members who had access to the rooms have been completely cleared through fingerprint and polygraph tests."

He said the case had been forwarded to theDirector of Public Prosecutions for a decision.

"We have not closed the case. We have referred it to the Director of Public Prosecutions for them to take a decision, and not us," he said.

The CCTV footage showed two kids, who were the children of the Egyptian coaching staff, entering into another room where the alleged incident did not occur.

Two hotel staff members were also shown refreshing the rooms on the first floor, where the Egyptian team was staying, but under the close eye of their supervisor.

When the players returned to their rooms, after beating Italy 1-nil, they went into their rooms, put their luggage away and went down to the foyer.

The filming of the hotel corridors in the affected areas was motion-activated and all relevant cameras were in working condition.

The footage showed the activities in the reception area and corridors in the absence of the Egyptian team, as well as their arrival back to the hotel and their subsequent activities.

There was no evidence on the footage to indicate that any women or any other unauthorised hotel staff entered into the rooms allocated to the Egyptian team as well as no evidence of alcohol usage.

Deputy Commissioner Pruis also confirmed that the CCTV footage had not been tampered with or edited in any way.

"It must be emphasised that this criminal matter is of a petty nature and is not in any way considered to be a major security incident," he said.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Ambassador to South Africa, Mohammed Zayed, who was also present at the media briefing said the team and the entire Egyptian population was disturbed by the substandard journalism by certain journalists, who reported about the incident.

"We are concerned about the reporters who preferred to write the story without checking the facts. We cannot allow people to embark on shoddy journalism which is aimed at damaging our reputation as well as straining our good working relationship with South Africa," he said.

Mr Zayed said the Egyptian Government will continue working the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the South African Government to make preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.