Security chief promises safe World Cup

CAPE TOWN - The security chief for next year's World Cup promised on Saturday the event would be safe, despite South Africa's reputation as one of the most violent countries in the world.

South Africa has 50 murders a day, more than the United States with six times the population, and high rates of rape and other violent crimes.

These statistics have aroused concern over the safety of around 450,000 visitors expected for the football spectacular.

But the event security chief, Deputy National Commissioner Andre Pruis (pictured), told reporters: "My message is, come to a safe World Cup."

Pruis said South Africa had successfully guarded more events over the last nine months "possibly than another other security commander in the world would secure in their lifetime."

These included general and local elections last April, the inauguration of president Jacob Zuma, the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament - moved at short notice to South Africa because of security fears in India - last June's Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for the 2010 tournament, and the Champions Trophy cricket competition.

The list concluded with Friday's World Cup draw, which Pruis said had been totally free of incidents despite 50,000 people pouring into a giant street party, more than three times the expected number, and the challenges of guarding the event itself, attended by a string of celebrities and politicians including Zuma.