JOHANNESBURG, December 4- South Africa has beefed up security around Cape Town for the World Cup draw Friday to prevent any incident and reassure fans about visiting one of the world's most crime-plagued nations.With an average of 50 people killed every day, fears about crime have dogged South Africa since it was named host nation.
With Africa’s first World Cup just six months away, the country has been recruiting new police, putting them through tough training, and buying hi-tech new equipment.
About 100,000 people are expected to watch the draw at the Waterfront in Cape Town. More than 100 million people will likely watch the event on television in 200 countries around the world.
Keenly aware that any incident would only heighten the country’s reputation for crime, security forces have pulled out all the stops to ensure the draw runs smoothly — with 1,000 police on patrol around the event, armed forces onstandy and even tightened air security protocols for flights around the city.
"There is adequate security that has been put in place," South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani told AFP.
"We are more than happy with the security measures for Friday and preparations that have been put in place when the actual World Cup starts."
South Africa’s chief World Cup organiser Danny Jordaan said the country is spending 1.3 billion rands (177 million dollars, 117 million euro) to beef up security.
That includes the 41,000 police officers deployed for the event, but also new equipment including helicopters, water cannons, body armour and 100 new patrol vehicles.
South African Police Service (SAPS) spokeswoman Sally de Beer said 14 government departments have worked for two years to create the security plans for Friday’s draw and the month-long tournament that begins June 11.
"The SAPS, the South African National Defence Force and intelligence agencies are ready to deal with any contingency, be it land on land, in the air or at sea," she said in a statement.
While South Africa’s general crime rate is alarming, Jordaan noted that the country has staged other high-profile sports events without incident.
"For 15 years, we have not failed anybody, South Africa’s track record in that is unquestionable," he told the Soccerex business conference this week.
"In 2009, we hosted the British and Irish Lions, then we had the Indian Premier League, Confederations Cup and then the International Cricket Council matches," he said.
"Currently the England Cricket team and the Barmy army is here and I have not had complaints. If you believe South Africans are aggressive, it’s a label which is unfair and unjust. There has not been a single incident of security during the hosting of these events."
"Societal crimes are not my responsibilities," Jordaan said. "Events crime are my responsibilities. Events crime starts from arrival at the airport, fan parks and venue security."
Since taking office in May, South African President Jacob Zuma has taken an agressive new tone about fighting crime, sparking a national debate about how much force police should use in chasing criminals.
With parliament mulling greater leeway for police to use force, debate over a so-called "shoot-to-call" intensified last month with the accidental shooting death of a three-year-old boy, killed as officer chased a murder suspect.
Zuma on Tuesday urged South Africans to welcome the 450,000 foreign fans expected for the World Cup.
"Welcome visitors who come to be with us, handle them with care," he said.
"We expect that everyone who comes here must go away without a single complaint," he added.