Murder & AIDS – Threats To 2010 World Cup

  With the 2010 World Cup less than a year away, South Africa has two major problems to resolve before 500,000 foreign football fans descend on the country: the rising murder rate, which   makes it second only to Colombia in the world ranking, and the risk of a spread of Aids through football fans visiting HIV-infected prostitutes.

On the crime front, President Jacob Zuma has ordered police to shoot first when confronted with guns. “Once a criminal takes out the gun the intention is clear,” he said after a 39-year-old white police officer, Charl Scheepers, died in a shootout with a robber in a Pretoria shopping centre.

But Zuma was also reacting to new figures which show that 50 people on average are murdered every day in South Africa – a total of more than 18,000 a year.

He vowed his government would use “extraordinary means” to deal with the

problem. It is understood that this promise followed discreet pressure to do something about gun crime from Fifa, the World Cup organisers.

As for Aids, 50 per cent of South Africa’s prostitutes are estimated to be infected. Ian Sanne, professor of infectious diseases at the University of the Witwatersrand – better known as Wits – in Johannesburg, says the party atmosphere being pushed by travel agents and the government is a green light to football fans to over-indulge in booze and sex next summer.

He advocates the legalisation of prostitution ahead of the World Cup as the only way to control the spread of the virus. He wants a system that would require South African sex workers to pass an HIV test before registering. “Only those who test negative would be allowed to practise,” he said.

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