No need to panic over Afcon safety‚ says government after bus attack in Egypt
Department of international relations says the incident should not affect the travel plans of South Africans hoping to attend the Africa Cup of Nations
The department of international relations & co-operation says there is no cause for “panic” and backed Egyptian authorities to host safe Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in the wake of an attack on a bus that injured 27 South Africans in Cairo on Sunday.
The explosion had no fatalities‚ with 24 of the South Africans returning home on Monday‚ but has called into question the security around Afcon, which starts on June 21.
The incident is the second in six months after three Vietnamese tourists were killed in a similar attack in December. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the latest blast.
But the department’s spokesperson, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, believes the incident should not affect the travel plans of South Africans hoping to attend the Nations Cup‚ nor call into question the right of Egypt to host the tournament.
“We call on South Africans to go in numbers and support their team at the Africa Cup of Nations and believe the Egyptian authorities have the capacity to successfully guard the games‚” Mabaya said on Monday.
“We feel there is no need to panic‚ we have faith in the Egyptian law enforcement agencies to handle the situation and we understand that these types of things do happen. In these situations‚ you should judge a country by its response to the incident and we have complete faith in the Egyptian authorities in this regard.”
Mabaya said they will continue to engage with law enforcement in Egypt to ensure the situation does not worsen.
“The SA ambassador to Egypt‚ Vusi Mavimbela‚ has been engaging with law enforcement agencies there and will continue to do so. Our law enforcement agencies‚ the SA Football Association and our security support structures have been engaging with the authorities in terms of the tournament.
“We are confident that the Egyptian authorities have a security plan for the Cup of Nations. Egypt has hosted a number of major events in the past and we believe they are capable of guarding the games.
“The incident yesterday was isolated and not targeted at South Africans specifically‚ but rather a tourist bus. It was an act by opportunistic terrorists and we will stand with the government of Egypt and make sure we support them in any way we can.
“At this moment there are a lot of South Africans in Egypt who have chosen not to come back. The 24 South Africans who have returned are those that were on the bus‚” said Mabaya.
Egypt was awarded the right to host Afcon ahead of SA after Cameroon was stripped of the tournament‚ winning the vote in a landslide victory that many saw as politically charged.
Egyptian football is still reeling from the Arab Spring‚ and attendances at local league games remain limited by authorities‚ who do not allow large gatherings of people.
If there are security issues at the tournament it will leave the Confederation of African Football in the difficult position of having to explain why it took its flagship competition to a country that has known instability.