Obama giving SA cops a headache - Cele

US President Barack Obama's possible visit to South Africa for the soccer World Cup is causing a major headache for the police, its national commissioner General Bheki Cele said on Friday.

Cele told Parliament's portfolio committee on police that 43 heads of state had provisionally confirmed that they would attend the tournament, which runs from June 11 to July 11.

However, the security challenges presented by Obama's visit dwarfed all other security preparations.

"One challenge is the American president who is coming, not coming, coming, not coming," Cele said.

"It is 50-50. Our famous prayer is that the Americans don't make the second round," he said to laugher from the MPs and police officials in the committee hearing.

"We are told that if it goes to the second or third stage, the US president may come.

"At the moment we have 43 head of state provisionally confirmed.

"That 43 will be equal to this one operation."

Cele said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had told him that the likelihood of Obama visiting was "becoming bigger".

"When we met second in command of FBI, he said he did not know. I don't think the gentleman is telling the truth."

Cele said the unlicensed hotel to be used as a base by the German team in Pretoria was also presenting the police with a dilemma.

"We thought the issue had been resolved, but it is continuing," he said.

"The hotel where they will be living does not have the licence to exist. It is an occupational risk, not a security risk.

"It puts us on the back foot at the South African police. Can we secure people who live in an illegal structure? That is a dilemma we are facing."

Cele thought the municipality "must grant the licence", but said it was "refusing to budge for whatever reason".

"We remain in the dilemma. Will we go to the illegal place to guard an illegal site? If anything happens there where are we as the SA police?" - Sapa


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