; Review of law on safety at sporting matches needed – Sitole – The Citizen

Review of law on safety at sporting matches needed – Sitole

National Police Commissioner, General Khehla John Sitole. Picture: Jacques Nelles

National Police Commissioner, General Khehla John Sitole. Picture: Jacques Nelles

A report submitted to the committees reveals the PSL applied to the police last month for a ‘risk recommendation’.

The modus operandi of hooligans attending soccer matches in the country has “drastically” changed, requiring a review of the law governing safety at sporting events, national police commissioner Khehla Sitole said on Tuesday.

“This particular legislation was promulgated before 2010 and it responded well in 2010. Between 2010 and now there was  drastic change in modus operandi which requires a review of the Act,” Sitole said while briefing parliament’s portfolio committees on police and sports.

The Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (SASREA) governs the way police, soccer league bosses and other roleplayers secure big sporting events.

Tuesday’s meeting followed the April 21 Nedbank Cup semi-final match between Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars, which Chiefs lost 2-0. The match ended with fans storming the pitch, beating up police, security and spectators, and causing millions of rand in damage.

A total of six people have been arrested on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.

A report submitted to the committees reveals the PSL applied to the police on April 9 for a “risk recommendation”. The police then classified the match a “medium risk event”.

The PSL application, according to the police, indicated there was no history of violence between the fans of the two clubs or at the stadium.

Later, Kaizer Chiefs represenatives reported its fans were not happy with the coach, prompting stadium management to ask the SA Police Service for support.

Police crime intelligence later identified several threats, including the possibility that fans could invade the pitch, as well as increased crime in and around the stadium.

On match day, 697 people were deployed, including 33 officers from visible policing, 10 from crime intelligence, 20 from the public order policing unit, and 26 metro police officials. The majority of those deployed were private security guards.

Just minutes before the game, fans starting throwing objects towards the technical staff of the teams. Police were deployed to “protect the technical team,to protect players and officials”.

After the game ended, the same officers had to escort the teams to the changing rooms after fans invaded the pitch, threatened and beat up security personnel.

“Stun grenades and smoke (grenades) were used to disperse the crowd.”

A total of 21 injuries were reported. Among those injured were 15 spectators, four security guards, one police officer and one metro police official.

Police officials who did not comply with police protocols and SASREA will face “consequence management”, the police document said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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