South Africa is like a friendly version of a police state at the moment. There are police and security everywhere and it has no doubt helped dampen down crime during this World Cup period. Another reason for the largely incident-free World Cup has been the social pressure from the masses who are absorbed with football at the moment.
More than 41,000 police have been mobilised to deal with World Cup security. Now another 11,000 police have been drafted in to replace striking security workers at four World Cup stadiums.
On top of this a separate, parallel judicial system has been established to deal with World Cup crime. 56 special courts are dotted around the country - open until 11pm, seven days a week. This costs the South African taxpayer R45 million (A$6.8 million). The money pays for 100 magistrates, 260 prosecutors and 110 translators who have enjoyed quite a leisurely time so far. From May 28 to June 21 they heard only 80 cases of which only 3% were for assault, common robbery or malicious damage to property.
Sentences for white tourists from the advanced capitalist world have been largely made up of fines. For blacks it is something else. One Nigerian caught in possession of 30 World Cup game tickets received three years in jail!
No doubt this massive display of benign state power gives a taste of what protest movements could face after the World Cup. Behind the party atmosphere, an economic crisis is brewing. Latest figures show that between April and May 2010 employment fell by 6.2% on an annualised basis.
In the quarter to March 2010, manufacturing lost 51,000 jobs (4.1%), construction 50,000 jobs (10.9%) and the electricity, gas and water supply industries lost 6.7% of its workforce. Gross earnings paid to workers dropped 4.6% in the same quarter.