Posted by Luke Cyphers
JOHANNESBURG -- The great World Cup crime wave of 2010 had better hurry up and start.
With four days left of the tournament, South Africa's feared criminal culture seems to have taken the month off.
As we reported, police officials said they were going all-out to prevent crime during the tournament and change the country's image to foreigners as dangerous.
Mission accomplished, so far. A heavy security presence, which included 45,000 new police hires, blanketed every venue, as well as business and tourism districts in the host cities. Beyond some robberies of journalists in the days before the tournament, few violent crimes against World Cup visitors were reported, and special courts set up to deal with tournament-related crime have had little business.
The New York Times this week reports that in the 54 special courtrooms, 172 cases came up through July 5, resulting in 104 convictions, seven acquittals, 28 dismissals or withdrawals and 33 still pending. Somewhere, the judge at the old Philadelphia Eagles court in Veterans Stadium is smirking.
For what it's worth, the worst crime personally witnessed by this reporter, aside from Kader Keita's dive, was a drunken Dutch fan hurling on a sidewalk a few hours after the Netherlands beat Uruguay. A little shocking, and undoubtedly a violation of some ordinance.
But it appears the debut of "CSI: Cape Town" will have to wait, at least until after the tournament.