Riot Police Clash with Protesting Private Security Guards After World Cup Match

By Matthew Harwood

Riot police shot tear gas and  rubber bullets at private security guards protesting low wages just outside a World Cup stadium in Durban, South Africa, this morning.

The clash between approximately 30 to 40 police officers and about 300 protesters started around 1 a.m., just hours after Germany defeated Australia 4-0 in the first matched played at the new Moses Mabhida Stadium. The melee began in an underground parking lot as protesters gathered to complain about alleged sub-par wages. Police, according to the Associated Press, appeared to use two percussive grenades to chase the protesters out of the parking lot and into the streets where they used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

"Two hours after the end of the first match at the Durban stadium last night, there was an internal pay dispute between the principal security company employed by the organizing committee and some of the static security stewards employed by the company at the match," Rich Mkhondo, head of communications for the local World Cup organizing committee, said in an e-mail statement provided to the AP. "Police were called on to disperse the protesting stewards."

(For more on security precautions taken at the FIFA 2010 World Cup, see Stephanie Berrong's "World Cup Security in Play," from this month's issue of Security Management.)

No one was seriously hurt, although one woman did get shot in the face with a rubber bullet.

The protesting security guards say they received pay far lower than what they were promised and, in some cases, no pay at all. The AP reports that the security guards say they were promised 1,500 rand ($195) a day but received only 190 rand ($25). One security guard told The New York Times that security guards worked from noon until midnight on Sunday, while another guard told the AP that many employees left their homes at 7 a.m. and traveled to work on their own dime.

"It was the first black mark during this World Cup, which has generated positive energy and reviews since it began on Friday," wrote Christopher Clarey on The New York Times World Cup blog, Goal.

“The organizing committee will engage with its stadium security provider to avoid a repeat of the situation during the course of the tournament," said Mkhondo.

♦ Photo of Moses Mabhida Stadium by designestates/Flickr


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