Uruguay won’t press charges in theft

South Africa police say Uruguayan football officials have

declined to pursue a theft case after allegations emerged that one

of their own may have been responsible.

Police spokesman Leon Engelbrecht said Sunday after receiving a

report that about $12,000 was missing from two of the delegation’s

Cape Town hotel rooms several hours before Uruguay played France

Friday, authorities reviewed hotel surveillance camera footage.

“There’s a big possibility that a member of the Uruguayan

delegation was involved, Engelbrecht said.

He said when delegation members saw the footage, they decided

not to open a case.

Sebastian Bauza, president of the Uruguayan football

association, denied a delegation member was involved, saying that

pressing charges would take too much time and distract from the

World Cup.

In another incident on the same day, TV New Zealand’s

correspondent and cameraman were robbed of all their equipment at

the FIFA-approved Sparkling Waters hotel in Rustenburg, foreign

editor Max Hayton said. Thieves smashed their hotel room door when

the two were out to dinner, he said. The estimated loss was

$100,000.

There have been other robberies of World Cup travelers.

Three journalists – two from Portugal, one from Spain – were

robbed of money, camera equipment, laptop computers and mobile

phones last Wednesday in a town northwest of Johannesburg. One of

the journalists was robbed at gunpoint.

“It took police no more than 24 hours to arrest these lunatic

scoundrels,” South Africa minister of police Nathi Mthetwa said in

a statement after three men – two from Zimbabwe and one from

Nigeria – were arrested in that case. “It further took the justice

department no more than 48 hours to sentence them. Now this is what

we have been echoing: that we will act with swiftness on any

criminality.”

Two of the convicted were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for

armed robbery, and the third to four years for the possession of

stolen property.

South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violent

crime, and the thefts were a reminder of the dangers that face

hundreds of thousands of fans coming to watch the monthlong

tournament.

Authorities have set up 56 dedicated courts to deal quickly with

World Cup-related cases.

“No criminal, whether South African or foreign, will terrorize

law-abiding citizens or visitors during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and

beyond, especially because this is a festival of the beautiful

game,” Mthetwa said.