Sandton City center was brought to a virtual standstill yesterday as thousands of police officers, soldiers, emergency personnel and security agencies paraded on the streets in a massive show of force to prove their readiness for the FIFA World Cup.Scores of people stared from the top of buildings to catch a glimpse of what was happening as hundreds of police vehicles, assisted by helicopters, forced their way into the CBD.
More than 3,000 police officers and an estimated 200 vehicles were used for the exercise.
While it was only a security simulation, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa warned that the exercise was a clear message that police will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of every South African and visitor during the World Cup.
Yesterday's exercise was just one of many planned throughout the country in the period leading up to the World Cup to test the capability of the country's security forces to respond to emergencies and potential acts of terrorism.
Different units such as the Special Task Force team, the Technical Unit, Flying and the Mountain Squad participated in the exercises in a bid to ensure that every security detail was covered.
Mthethwa said while law enforcement agencies including the police will be under no illusion of the magnitude of the FIFA event, South Africa is not under any pressure to prove anything to the world.
"We have nothing to prove, we have hosted many big sporting events in this country. But what we are doing here today is to say that we shall spare neither strength nor efforts to ensure the safety of our visitors and all South Africans and everyone else who will be in our country," Mthethwa said, according to Kickoff.com.
He said the World Cup should leave a lasting security legacy for South Africa to ensure that visitors return to the country long after the World Cup has come and gone.
"The activities we are doing serve as a reiteration and reaffirmation that South Africa will be the safest place in the world during the World Cup and it must remain as such."
With only 24-days before kick-off, Mthethwa urged all those who will be visiting the country to be vigilant and exercise extra caution as police will not be at every place all the time.
"We are urging you to use all the available resources to blow the whistle on crime and help the police to ensure that everyone is safe," said Mthethwa.
Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele, who earlier received a detailed security plan for the event, gave an assurance that police will use the best intelligence gathering methods available to prevent any act of terrorism during the tournament.
"We are aware that terrorists like to use international events to register their selfish messages and we would like to assure you that we are ready to squeeze them," Cele said to press at the police exercise.
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