SOUTH AFRICA SITE OFFERS GLIMPSE OF CRIME

Digital Content

  South Africans outraged at high levels of violent crime launched a new Web site last week dedicated to giving visitors "a preview of death and violence" in the country ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The site, Crime Expo SA (www.crimexposouthafrica.co.za), will eventually feature graphic photos of murder victims provided by their families, as well as a breakdown of bloody attacks by region, organisers said.

"South Africans, who were brutally murdered in the past, will return from their graves and, via their families and friends, tell the international community of their horror," the site said in its welcoming page last week.

Plans for the Web site have ruffled feathers among officials seeking to build SA's brand ahead of the 2010 World Cup, with some warning that negative perceptions of security in the country could scare off potential visitors.

"We are concerned about the appropriateness of any information campaign that focuses only on the negatives and ignores the growing range of successes in the fight against crime," the International Marketing Council said in a statement.

Neil Watson, a Cape Town insurance broker who founded the Web site, said frightening off foreign tourists and their much-needed dollars and pounds might be the only way to jolt South African officials into getting serious about crime.

"A decline in international tourists (including Soccer 2010 tourists) will serve as a warning to the South African leadership to clean up their act," Watson said in a statement on the site.

South African officials led by president Thabo Mbeki plan to launch the country's World Cup drive at the end of the current cup competition in Germany on Sunday.

Watson said he already had 289 files of "gruesome data" on murdered South Africans which he would post on the site in coming days.

South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime, with rapes, murders and violent car hijackings regularly making headlines in the local press.

Police officials concede that crime is a problem, but often blame the media for sensationalising incidents, particularly when they involve the wealthy white minority.

Reuters