The biggest benefits of the 2010 World Cup are those that are still to be discovered. Like… crime in South Africa can be beaten!
And if FIFA’s presence has been a heavy cost in other ways, maybe their Big Brother demands on government (which just played silly buggers with criminals up to now) will show the way for tackling crime in the future. Maybe it did take outside interference and the pressure of hosting the World Cup for something to be done.
Government got serious — 41 000 police were deployed around stadiums, fan parks, hotels and tourist sites. They acquired new helicopters and other equipment, and set up 56 dedicated World Cup courts across the country.
These are staffed by dedicated prosecutors, detectives, magistrates and interpreters, sitting late into the night to try cases linked to the World Cup.
Justice has never been so quick. After foreign journalists were robbed at gunpoint in Magaliesberg last Wednesday, police arrested two men the next day and they were tried, convicted and begun serving 15-year sentences on the Friday.
In Nelspruit, police arrested three men a few hours of Chinese journalists were robbed at their lodge.
In Cape Town, a woman who snatched the bag of a Japanese tourist was arrested, tried and convicted a day later.
Most World Cup visitors report that they’ve never felt safer, and that’s the best message they can take home to family and friends. CapeInfo’s surveys showed that 86% of all visiting fans listed crime and personal safety as their biggest fear before they left home.
A survey by the Institute for Security Studies of 30 convicted house robbers showed most had been involved in over 100 robberies before being arrested. While statistics and logic is never linear, surely this shows that it’s not impossible to make a very big dent into the 18,000 house robberies and 15,000 car hijackings that SA experiences each year?
So when FIFA fly out after the most profitable World Cup they’ve ever organised, will government go back to its old ways or will these improvements be rolled out to the entire criminal justice system?