Obama’s possible visit a headache – Cele

2010-05-07 11:20

United States President Barrack Obama’s possible visit to South

Africa for the soccer World Cup is causing a major headache for the police, its

national commissioner General Bheki Cele said.

Cele told Parliament’s portfolio committee on police that 43 heads

of state had provisionally confirmed that they would attend the tournament,

which runs from June 11 to July 11.

However, the security challenges presented by Obama’s visit dwarfed

all other security preparations.

“One challenge is the American president who is coming, not coming,

coming, not coming,” Cele said.

“It is 50-50. Our famous prayer is that the Americans don’t make

the second round,” he said to laugher from the MPs and police officials in the

committee hearing.

“We are told that if it goes to the second or third stage, the US

president may come.

“At the moment we have 43 head of state provisionally

confirmed.That 43 will be equal to this one operation.”

Cele said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite

Nkoana-Mashabane had told him that the likelihood of Obama visiting was

“becoming bigger”.

“When we met second in command of FBI, he said he did not know. I

don’t think the gentleman is telling the truth.”

Cele said the unlicensed hotel to be used as a base by the German

team in Pretoria was also presenting the police with a dilemma.

“We thought the issue had been resolved, but it is continuing,” he


“The hotel where they will be living does not have the licence to

exist. It is an occupational risk, not a security risk.

“It puts us on the back foot at the South African police. Can we

secure people who live in an illegal structure? That is a dilemma we are


Cele thought the municipality “must grant the licence”, but said it

was “refusing to budge for whatever reason”.

“We remain in the dilemma. Will we go to the illegal place to guard

an illegal site? If anything happens there where are we as the SA police?”

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