JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African immigration officials have stopped 613 “undesirable” people from entering the country ahead of and during the World Cup, the department of home affairs said.
Spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said the foreigners were denied entry because their names appeared on South Africa’s Visa and Entry Stop List, and lists of people to watch out for provided by Interpol and soccer governing body FIFA.
“The 613 foreign travellers were detected through South Africa’s movement-control system launched in May this year,” he said, without saying how many of those barred from entering the country were suspected soccer hooligans.
South Africa has deported or barred dozens of suspected hooligans from countries including England and Argentina during the World Cup that started on June 11, after asking other nations to help keep troublemakers out.
So far, games have gone ahead without any major incident.
The government has said it has systems in place to protect fans and that its intelligence units were cooperating with international agencies to ensure against any possible terrorist threat.
Zimbabwe police last week detained two Pakistani men attempting to enter South Africa, one of whom had an international arrest warrant out for him for terrorism, according to media reports.
Mamoepa said South African Home Affairs airline liaison officers in Dubai had prevented another two Pakistanis from boarding flights to the country after they were found to have fraudulent temporary resident permits.
More than 2.1 million foreign travellers had arrived in South Africa in June, 523,798 more than visited South Africa during the same month in 2009, he said.
(Editing by Jon Bramley)