News24

Foiled plot 'no threat' to SWC

2010-05-11 11:47

Johannesburg - Experts say a foiled plot by right-wing extremists to blow up townships ahead of next month's World Cup poses no threat to the country.

According to the police's special investigation unit, five white men were charged with terrorism after police discovered an arms cache and explosives, allegedly planned for use in attacks on black neighbourhoods.

The announcement of a foiled plot came last Friday.

Racial tension

But political and security analysts say there is little risk of a terror attack by white extremists during the FIFA World Cup which stars on June 11, despite a recent spike in racial tension in the country.

"I don't take the plot idea so seriously," said Dirk Kotze of the University of South Africa.

"It's not as if there's a right-wing movement or militias that exist that can be mobilised at any time," he told AFP.

"The last time there was any sort of attack from the right wing was in 1994, 16 years ago. It was at the time of the first (post-apartheid) election," said Kotze.

The racial tension that lingers in South Africa 16 years after the end of apartheid resurfaced last month when AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche was bludgeoned to death at his farm house.

Two men who worked on his farm have been charged with his murder.

Terre'Blanche was the leader of a 1993 armed invasion of the building where multi-party negotiations on ending apartheid were taking place.

In the wake of his murder, Terre'Blanche's AWB urged white South Africans to arm themselves, issuing a call - later retracted - to avenge his death.

Extremists

Since the murder, police have made arms seizures and arrests linked to right-wing extremists in several parts of South Africa, the police minister said Thursday.

Kotze said the far right no longer has the power it once had to disrupt the country.

"The extreme right wing was sort of activated by the death of Eugene Terre'Blanche," he said.

"But it doesn't mean that it's a well-organised movement with lots of members, and that therefore they can now mobilise for this period of the World Cup. They simply don't have the infrastructure and the organisation to do that."

Terre'Blanche's murder raised concerns about the country's security, but officials are confident that threats by far right groups will not disturb the World Cup.

Police chief Bheki Cele on Friday told media that the extremists posed "absolutely" no threat to the World Cup.

No terror threat

Independent political analyst Daniel Silke told AFP that the outrage around Terre'Blanche's murder does not translate into a terror threat for the World Cup.

"The South African government would have liked a more peaceful build-up to the World Cup," said Silke.

"The sensitivities within South Africa as a result of the death of Terre'Blanche and the emergence of a frustrated white right-wing, on the fringes of the political scene, are very closely watched by South Africa's security authorities," he said.

Anneli Botha, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said that while South Africa's extreme right wing lashed out violently against the end of apartheid, it does not have a history of attacking international events such as the World Cup.

"The right wing up until now focused their attention more on domestic politics," Botha told AFP.

"All the plots up to now, all the incidents, were directed against the government or parts of society, not the international community," said Botha.