Extra precautions, bomb sweep at FNB Stadium for Soweto derby after US terror alert
Precautions, including a bomb sweep of the venue and increased security, are being taken ahead of the Soweto derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. This in response to a US terror alert.
With tickets sold out, 93,000 supporters will pack FNB Stadium for the DStv Premiership match.
Bertie Grobbelaar, CEO of Stadium Management, the company that oversees FNB Stadium, said security precautions were discussed at the highest level after the US government issued the alert on Wednesday.
It said it had received information that “terrorists may be planning to conduct an attack targeting large gatherings of people at an unspecified location in the greater Sandton area” this weekend.
While FNB Stadium is in Nasrec, about 25km from Sandton, Grobbelaar said given the size of the gathering precautions were being taken.
“Yesterday after it surfaced, with the SA Police Service [SAPS] brigadier who is the authorised member [of the safety and security planning committee for the match], we were in contact with the security cluster. It was referred to crime intelligence and the intelligence structures of SAPS.
“We’ve received notification that we will be alerted if there are any signs of an imminent threat. But it’s been dealt with and there’s going to be increased security. There’s going to be a bomb sweep of the venue tomorrow [Friday] morning.”
Grobbelaar stressed there was no cause for alarm for those attending the derby.
“It’s all under control. SAPS will inform us if there are any alternative actions to be taken. At the moment it’s going as planned. The threat was not related to the event, but it’s something you have to take seriously if it’s at that level.”
Given Saturday’s derby is the first with a crowd in two years due to Covid-19, Grobbelaar said security surrounding the match was already being beefed up significantly.
“The extra precautions started with intense retraining of all the personnel involved and in the years I’ve been involved in football this is the best-planned derby, with the most attention detail I’ve ever seen.
“There have been dry runs — we’ve never had that before. And Covid contributed to a change in many things. We’ve now installed 17 CCTV cameras, there will be a drone focused on crowd management and a licence plate recognition system. If there’s a suspicious vehicle, it will be picked up and flagged.
“We’ve changed the access points where you get scanned from the turnstiles, which are now a buffer for counting, to somewhere before the turnstiles. And of course, the age-old rule is if fans arrive early they will have a very smooth entry to the venue.”
Ten Chiefs-Pirates derbies were played behind closed doors due to restrictions on crowds in response to Covid-19.
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