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SAfrican gov't: World Cup fans, teams still safe

SAfrican gov't: World Cup fans, teams still safe

With World Cup security plans already under intense scrutiny, South Africa's police minister is worried about the image of the host country following the brutal killing of right-wing leader Eugene Terreblanche but said Monday that the tournament would not be affected.
"We are always concerned about the perception of South Africa," Nathi Mthetwa said. "It's the violent nature of crime in South Africa that makes us be concerned and be worried."
But Mthetwa said the government has taken a tough stance against crime and the killing of Terreblanche, who was bludgeoned to death Saturday, will not affect football's marquee event.
"I can say that with the plans we have put in place, with our tough stance in the fight against crime, we are starting to see the results," Mthetwa said in the northwest town of Ventersdorp, close to the scene of Terreblanche's grisly murder.
"There will be no person who commits crime in South Africa and kill people or a person, and get away scot-free without the full might of the law."
Terreblanche, the leader of the white supremacist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) was killed in his bed in what police described as a wage dispute with two of his black workers. The incident has increased racial tensions in the country and added to safety fears just nine weeks ahead of the World Cup.
Team and fan safety for the June 11-July 11 event was already subject to close examination because of the country's high rate of violent crime.
The World Cup organizing committee said Monday that they would not comment on Terreblanche's murder. Local organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo referred The Associated Press to government statements.
Police and the South African government have said the murder was not a political crime, and would have no impact on the World Cup.
President Jacob Zuma called for calm following the "terrible deed" and asked South Africans "not to allow agent provocateurs to take advantage of this situation by inciting or fueling racial hatred."
But a top AWB member said that the killing of Terreblanche on his farm just outside Ventersdorp, about 110 kilometers (68 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, was a "declaration of war" by blacks against whites in South Africa.
Andre Visagie said his group would tell teams to reconsider their participation in the World Cup.
"We're going to warn those nations, 'You are sending your soccer teams to a land of murder,'" Visagie said. "Don't do that if you don't have sufficient protection for them."
Visagie said his group would avenge Terreblanche's death, but gave no details.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu told the AP that it was wrong for the AWB to cast doubt on security preparations for the World Cup. Mthembu said the World Cup was for all South Africans, not just blacks.
"We have to give all the support we can for the World Cup to happen here in South Africa," Mthembu said. "And we think our compatriots in the AWB should do the same as other patriotic South Africans."
Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said in Johannesburg last week he was satisfied with South Africa's security plans for the World Cup. About 41,000 police officers will be deployed for the monthlong tournament.
Terreblanche's funeral will take place Friday in Ventersdorp.
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Associated Press writers Michelle Faul and Anita Powell contributed to this report.