The South African police staged a mock crowd control exercise, demonstrating the skills learnt from the French Gendarmerie ahead of the FIFA World Cup in June.
The exercise was focused on testing the police readiness to face violent and unruly football hooligans, who are likely to descend on the country to watch the games — an unknown phenomenon in local football.
Police clad in full combat gear battled with a raging crowd outside the Ellis Park Stadium, others throwing objects and pushing and shoving.
The simulation also showed the use of force, which they said would be the last resort after warnings.
Stun grenades were fired, with back-ups at the ready, as the crowd got more violent.
“The training we have received from the Gendarmerie will enable us to deal with situations similar to these during and after the World Cup,” said Bheki Cele, the national police chief.
Cele said the cooperation between South Africa and the French police equipped the local force with both the physical training and technical skills.
He said local police were working with Interpol and other international agencies to block hooligans from entering the country.
“We have a database with their names. They are known and they will be denied entry. If some do manage to slip in, we will deal with them,” said Cele.
The police chief said they have identified nine countries whose matches are likely to cause trouble.
The match between England and the United States is one of them, he said.
“We have categorised security risk fans on a scale of 1-2, with 1 being the most dangerous,” said Cele.
According to the South African government, 41,000 police officers will be deployed around the country during the tournament.
“South Africa already has a reputation of being a violent country, so that gave us the edge the show our capabilities,” said Cele.
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