Police minister issues assurance on airport security

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Categories : Travel news

South Africa is doing everything possible, and planning for any eventuality around airport security for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, says Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa.

Speaking after a meeting this week with Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) officials at Cape Town International Airport, Mthethwa said the police had been working closely with Acsa officials to ensure that security is strengthened.

While special police units are to be retrained and deployed back into airports, Acsa has tightened its processes around the approval and extension of permits for airport workers.

Deon Cloete, Acsa general manager for Cape Town International Airport said the airports company had introduced a new biometric system for permits for airport workers in May last year.

While 10 000 permits were issued, the system had picked up 240 applicants with irregularities, either because they had criminal records or because they failed to pass the necessary security checks. Their bid for permits was turned down.

The airport security personnel will concentrate not only on petty criminals but also on high profile criminals.

Mthethwa commended the Western Cape's war room (the crime co-ordinating intelligence centre set up in Cape Town last year), saying it was a lesson that other provinces should follow.

He also took aim at those who said the country had the worst crime rate in the world, pointing to the example of Brazil where police recently could not enter certain shanty towns where druglords held sway.

But he said in South Africa there was not a single place where druglords were able to prevent police from not entering.

He said local security agencies were working closely with other countries in co-ordinating security and enhancing capacity.

"There are people with devious intentions out there, criminals who think they can reap some benefit from this, either from some criminal view, or terrorism," he said, adding that what was important was whether the country's security agencies were able to respond to these threats.

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