News24

Army 'on high alert' during SWC

2010-03-25 14:12

Pretoria - South African soldiers will be on high alert during the football World Cup, the army commander said on, Thursday, adding the military will begin border patrols next week.

"We are ready to help where needed with the World Cup," Lieutenant General Solly Shoke told reporters.

"All army leave has been cancelled over this period. We will be on high alert," he said. "We will be there in support of the South African Police Services."

"This World Cup is not about security. It's about enjoyment. People must be allowed to come here and enjoy the soccer. We don't see any threats" to the tournament, he added.

Security realignment

The military will begin patrolling South Africa's borders on April 1, taking over the duty from police as part of a security realignment meant to allow police to focus on fighting crime.

Shoke said soldiers were being trained for the patrols, which will aim to prevent trafficking in drugs or people during the World Cup.

South Africa last week proposed its first direct legislation to target trafficking, with maximum sentences of life imprisonment and a R1m fine.

"Anticipation of an increase in trafficking, especially for sexual purposes, ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has focused attention on South Africa's ability to deal with trafficking," Ngoako Ramatlhodi, chair of Parliament's justice committee, said in Cape Town.

The committee will push for World Cup-focused measures - such as training police and home affairs officers - pending the passing of the new umbrella law.

"We're looking at effective implementation of existing legislation," he said.