fast little loans
By Kowthar Solomons
Brazen scalpers are selling tickets for World Cup matches just metres from the Cape Town Stadium entrance and in full view of police officers and Fifa volunteers.
On Monday, five men offered tickets to the Cape Argus for the 1.30pm clash between Portugal and North Korea.
One of the touts said he would be able to get tickets for any other World Cup match.
I did not solicit the first three approaches - the men walked up and asked whether I wanted tickets.
Some asked if I was selling tickets before removing tickets from their jacket pockets to show me what they had to offer.
The average price of the tickets ranged from R300 for category 3 seats to R700 for category 1 seats.
Fifa sells category 3 tickets for R560, while category 1 tickets go for R1 120.
After listening to the details of their offers, I declined. I then decided to see what would happen if I openly asked for tickets. I wrote "Need tickets" on a piece of paper and held it up.
It was 11.30am, two hours before kick-off, and the area outside the stadium was packed with police officers and Fifa volunteers.
My appeal worked: two more men approached me and said they had tickets for sale.
I asked how many tickets were available and one of the men said he could give me five for the day's match if I had the cash ready.
I was not the only person bearing a handwritten appeal for tickets.
My colleague, photographer Tracey Adams, later witnessed an exchange between a suspected tout and a fan who was holding a sign asking for tickets. She photographed them as they conferred, and handed over tickets and cash.
Fifa regulations say that ticketYesters bought through any "unauthorised sales channel" are not valid and World Cup punters were warned before the tournament started that they would have to produce some form of identity at stadiums to prove that they had valid tickets in their own names.
Fifa also made it clear that tickets were non-transferrable.
Local organising committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo said that to legally transfer tickets, a person needed a sworn affidavit.
During the first three World Cup ticket sales phases, fans were forced to provide the ID numbers of every spectator accompanying them to the match. Fans were also warned that their tickets and ID numbers would be checked at the stadium gates.
But the soccer body has now backtracked on this.
Asked whether IDs were being checked at stadiums, Fifa spokesman Nicolas Maingot said: "No, that is not the case. Everyone will not have to show their IDs."
Cape Town police spokesman Colonel Billy Jones said he could not comment on ticket scalping outside the stadium because he had not witnessed Monday's exchanges.
He said the matter would be investigated only if I laid a formal complaint with the police.
National police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said spectators and journalists should report incidents of people touting tickets.
"We can't do it alone, we expect co-operation from spectators and the media," said Naidoo. "If you see these activities, report it to the police."
He said that apart from police officers monitoring the outer perimeter of the stadium, CCTV cameras were also being used to identify possible scalpers.
"We also want to warn the public not to buy tickets outside stadiums. Fans should use the official Fifa channels to obtain tickets."
On Monday, Naidoo said random ID checks would be conducted only if police received reports of stolen tickets. "We can't check between 60 000 and 90 000 tickets," he said. "We do random checks when the need arises."
Mkhondo confirmed this, saying tickets would be checked only if a ticket dispute arose.
The committee's chief executive, Danny Jordaan, said those caught selling tickets on the black market would be charged.
Naidoo said no arrests linked to scalping had been made in Cape Town.
Fifa's Legal Affairs Division said they would work with officers from Britain's Scotland Yard to find the source of the illegal tickets.
Last week, a Nigerian man was sentenced to three years in prison in Pretoria after being convicted of the unlawful possession of 30 World Cup tickets.
In another case, a South African man was convicted for ticket scalping at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth before the June 15 Ivory Coast-Portugal game.
He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment or a R3 000 fine and his sentence was suspended for three years. - Additional reporting by Clayton Barnes