Traffic control is key at major sporting eventsThomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla & Mandla Dladla
The primary function of the Metro Police Department (JMPD) is not just traffic control but their role includes safety and security while coordinating the flow of movement at major sporting events because there are many different role players.
“We have safety and security to consider which falls under Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JPMD) & the South African Police Services (SAPS) and within that ambit we have different roles,” said JMPD spokesman Xolani Fihla.
“It sometimes happens at major sporting or entertainment events that petty crime is detected and that falls under SAPS. The JMPD does the traffic while also assisting at major events while we would also be boosted by the K9 Dog unit as well as undercover officers.
“On our part when we do escorts they are precisely planned to make sure that there is very little margin for error from the place of departure to where they are going to play which is usually at the stadiums.”
The strength and abilities of the Traffic control and various other units are stretched whenever the Soweto derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs takes place anywhere in the country or lately when Sundowns plays either of the two Soweto clubs.
“The Soweto derby is a huge game that we find there is usually a high traffic volume of spectators and traffic are naturally disrupted because a lot of people attend the stadium so there has to be a lot of road closures where traffic is being diverted.”
Fihla explains that one of the biggest challenges at big events like the derby is that far too many people arrive very late at the stadium and that adds extra pressure.
“It’s games of this magnitude that for better control and free movement we always encourage people to come early to the stadiums to avoid a bottleneck where people are desperate and rushing to get inside all at once.”
During the staging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup the JMPD played a major role which contributed to the success of the event because of the integrated approach and team work between different units.
The JMPD, SAPS with departments within the city of Johannesburg, South African Football Association and FIFA showed true professionalism and team-work throughout. Everyone was tasked to assist and came in with their different experiences for the hosting of the World Cup.
When it comes to the deployment of officers at a stadium, a plenary meeting is usually held in advance with Stadium Management to gauge the enormity of the event and how many officers would be needed for a particular event. The agreement with Stadium Management is usually 120 officers but the JMPD would deploy additional members just to contain the risk within the stadium.
The department has different sporting codes like soccer, netball and volleyball. When it comes to soccer specifically JMPD has a league within the department.
You have different units and areas that play against each other in the league where we get prices, cups and medals at the end of every season.
We also have players from different teams in the league that are selected for the squad (National team) where we have the Metro Games which involves JMPD, Tshwane Metro, Ethekwini Metro, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Cape Town Metro competing in different sporting codes.
The main goal is to keep our officers healthy both physically and mentally and primarily to let some steam off because our job does get too intense especially when dealing with violent crimes and situations.