The Lowvelder

Pockets picked at big game

- Chelsea Pieterse

MBOMBELA - While it was one of the most memorable moments in Lowveld history, the big game over the weekend was unfortunat­ely not free from its challenges.

Pickpocket­s, pitch invaders and bathroom trouble at the stadium were some of the problems that put a slight damper on the historic day.

According to local, Andriette

Martins, she and several of her friends had their phones stolen from them.

A man from Limpopo, Christiaan Cronje, said he had his phone stolen from his pocket. Luckily he caught on to what was happening and ran after the man he suspected of stealing his phone.

“When I caught up, he apologised and handed my phone back to me. I told him this was not the way these things work and that I was going to call the police. He started running and I chased after him until we reached some policemen. I told the officer everything, but because I had my phone with me, I was told they could do nothing.”

A provincial police spokespers­on, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, said a few cases of cellphone theft were reported, but that there were no major incidents of crime. He said there were also a few cases of theft out of motor vehicles reported, but that these had occurred in the CBD and not within the stadium grounds. As for the pitch invaders that ran onto the field during the game, Mohlala said that the men were given a warning, but were not arrested.

Mbombela Stadium’s manager,

Roelf Kotze, said about 600 security personnel and police officers in plain clothes patrolled the area and kept a lookout. He said crime intelligen­ce and the City’s law enforcemen­t had also been deployed, and security was discussed intensely in the pre-planning for the big event.

The stadium was struck by a serious water shortage during the morning, despite the presence of Silulumanz­i, the city’s water supplier.

“We establishe­d that there was a serious loss of pressure into the stadium from the reticulati­on system. We could, however, not immediatel­y resolve the crisis. This caused unnecessar­y discomfort for supporters,” Kotze said.

Other problems experience­d was confusion caused by the park-and-ride system. Kotze said supporters had left the stadium in hordes after the match and were confused as to what buses to take back to their own transport.

“This will be rectified in future by erecting more and better informatio­n boards to allow visitors to immediatel­y see which bus to take where.”

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