Friday, January 22, 2010

Weird Story: Threats of Murder, Theft at SA2010

This is a strange one. It involves two shadowy crime figures appearing on a South Africa television network and vowing to attack World Cup tourists, robbing them, perhaps killing them ...

And it comes just as concerns about the safety of visitors to the 2010 World Cup seems to be heating up, in the wake of the Togo national team being shot up in Angola.

It involves the apparent suicide of a man who put the TV network in touch with the criminals, and the arrest of one of them, with some "freedom of the press" issues thrown in, as well, because the police subpoenaed the TV news station reporter who interviewed the criminals.

Basically, it's a mess.

Here is the simplest version of the story, from Reuters.

Here is a more detailed one, out of the Johannesburg Sunday Times.

The gist of it is ... the TV news station found two guys. Apparently actual thugs. With thug credentials. Who said they planned to attack visitors, presumably mostly Europeans and Americans, for the abuses of colonialism over the centuries. Well, and because tourists from Europe and the United States might actually be lucrative targets for robbery.

And this sent the South African establishment into a tizzy, because it confirms/reinforces the concerns percolating out there in the First World of South Africa as an crazy-unsafe destination.

Certainly, South Africa has problems. We've been over this. It has 50 murders a day, and is No. 2 in the world in murders -- both on a per-capita basis and in total numbers, trailing only Colombia.

So, South Africa cops, etc., went nuts over this, and strong-armed the TV station perhaps a bit more brazenly than it needed to, and now the bullying by the cops is turning into a cause celebre for other South African media who don't like the show of force one bit.

The cops allege to have arrested one of the guys and "know the other." And then there is the dead middleman.

It's all murky and a bit disturbing. But don't let it worry you. Nope.

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