Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Irvin Khoza says poor planning by police is partly to blame for the violence at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban after a Nedbank Cup semifinal between Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars on Saturday.
Several people were injured when fans invaded the pitch after Chiefs’ 2-0 defeat to Stars and caused damage likely to cost millions of rand.
Khoza said police are often found wanting ahead of major soccer matches and there were times when they did not turn up at crucial meetings during the planning stages of these events.
‘‘When there are issues of this nature like on Saturday‚ where the game was medium risk‚ understand that the authority lies with the VOC commander‚" he said, referring to the South African Police Service’s (SAPS’s) venue operations centre commander.
‘‘The VOC commander is the only person who can instruct deployment when an incident of that nature happens," he said, adding that if the VOC commander did not issue an instruction‚ nobody could intervene.
‘‘When you come to the PSL‚ the club is charged for whatever offence and when you look for reports there is one report that is always missing and that is the report of the VOC commander or of the police responsible for the command and control of the event," said Khoza.
‘‘I understand that in football terms it is the match commissioner who is responsible for this‚ but insofar as the event itself is concerned‚ the VOC commander is in charge in terms of giving direction."
SAPS responded to Khoza’s criticism and announced on Monday afternoon that a high-level team had been appointed to investigate the ugly scenes that unfolded on Saturday night.
‘‘The office of the acting provincial commissioner did receive a plan for the policing of the match, which was informed by the risk categorisation and threat assessment‚" the SAPS said in a statement.
‘‘We will be probing if the deployment of SAPS‚ private security personnel and other security agencies were in place according to the plan and whether those that were deployed … at the event reacted as they were expected to and whether they were in a position to prevent the hooliganism and criminality that unfolded."
The police said investigators were "working around the clock to identify and bring the perpetrators of the violence to book".
Khoza suggested the police were failing to implement the recommendations of the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act. ‘‘The act is there to be implemented. Who must implement?" Khoza asked.
‘‘We have raised this with the minister and the act is there. All these things should not happen because they are there in the act — who must do what?"
‘‘All these things are going to be examined.
‘‘We will go back to the minister and say: ‘We have raised these things‚ let us go back and check the numbers. Did the numbers fit the level of the risk?’
"And the pre-assessment and the post-assessment of the risk that has been identified‚ what did we do?"