Police tighten security as racism conference begins

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- South African police have thrown a ring of steel around Durban's International Convention Centre and say they are prepared for any eventuality during the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) that began Friday in the port city of Durban.
More than 3000 members of the security forces are deployed in Durban for the event, including the police, the National Defence Force, the Durban metro police and traffic authorities.
Deputy Police Commissioner Andre Pruis, has assured delegates and members of the public that contingency plans have been completed for every possible security threat.
Joint operational and intelligence structures comprising members of the police, defence force, the National Intelligence Agency and several government departments were set up last year, and had held monthly meetings on security measures for the gathering.
These committees have studied other major events in South Africa and around the world and have put the necessary measures in place.
These include a one-kilometre no-fly zone established around the giant Convention Centre.
No aircraft, helicopters or hot air balloons are allowed in the area and police say violation of the airspace would result in prosecution.
The South African navy and the police sea border unit are also on full alert to deal with any problems in the harbour.
The Convention Centre is under the jurisdiction of the United Nations throughout the conference and will be off limits to anyone who has not been accredited.
Police have warned that they would not tolerate any form of violent protest and will be ready to deal with large gatherings.
They have given permission to 18 groups and movements for protest marches and meetings.
"Provision has been made for additional police and prison cells to be made available to cope with any unexpected needs," said police spokesman Bala Naidoo.
The security plan is being implemented in three phases: the pre-conference phase, the conference phase and the post- conference phase.
The operation is divided into four operational sectors, namely policing areas of Durban North, Durban South, Midlands and Umzimkulu.
Units from the security forces and other role players from various provinces as well as members from KwaZulu-Natal will be deployed in these areas to ensure that the conference environment is made safe and secure.
"We do not see any reason whatsoever for anyone to be violent in Durban on an issue about racism," remarked Foreign Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
"My message to protesters is that they are welcome to protest peacefully, but we will not tolerate violence," he added.
The Convention Centre is also set to cater for delegates and journalists, with eight tonnes of chicken and lamb, one and half tonnes of pasta, Danish pastries, croissants, African dishes and curries are on the menu.
There are at least 100 chefs on site day and night throughout the conference.

31 august 2001 08:41:00

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