World Cup organisers reiterated Saturday that football fans will be safe at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Senior government, police and sports officials said South Africa is beefing up police numbers and training, investing in high-tech equipment and crime-busting surveillance to combat crime as well as any threats from hooligans and terrorists.

Trying to shrug off the country’s reputation as the world’s crime capital, South African organizing chief Danny Jordaan pointed out that there hasn’t been a single incident during any big international events in South Africa since multiparty democracy in 1994.

“This country can deliver a safe and secure World Cup,” Jordaan said before the draw for next year’s Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for 2010. “This is a serious issue that we have taken seriously from Day 1. Our track record is equal to any in the world.” Jordaan and other South African officials have often repeated that sentiment, but yet still the negative headlines continue.

South Africa has more than 50 murders and nearly 1,000 reported rapes each day. Violent house break-ins and carjackings, especially in the Johannesburg business hub, are routine. People are regularly shot for their mobile phones, and instead of stealing money from cash dispensers, robbers simply blow them out of the wall.

But deputy police commissioner Andre Pruis said that, rather than being countrywide and random, the majority of crimes were concentrated in fairly small areas. He said that 80 percent of murder and rape victims knew their assailants and that alcohol, drugs and poverty were usually to blame.

Overall, crime had steadily fallen in the past few years, Pruis said.

Deputy security minister Susan Shabangu said the government would intensify its efforts to tackle violent crime by working more closely with business and the vast private security industry.

“We have seen immense progress concerning security and in the coming two years we will see even better progress,” Shabangu said.

The police plan to spend 640 million rands ($64 million) on the deployment of 41,000 officers specially for the World Cup. Overall, police numbers will be increased to 190,000 by 2010.

It is spending an additional 665 million rands ($66 million) on equipment like helicopters, unmanned aircraft, border controls, crowd-control equipment and specialized body armor.

There will be 10 mobile command centers at match venues with high-tech monitoring equipment. South African police will be assisted by an anti-hooligan unit from Interpol, and have already started working closely with British authorities given their experience with violent fans. Twenty police officers from the 32 nations which qualify will also be in South Africa to spot potential troublemakers.

Unlike Europe, South Africa does not have problems with hooliganism and rival fans mingle harmoniously on the terraces and on the streets afterward.

The terrorism threat is also deemed to be lower in South Africa than many other parts of the world, though Pruis said that a post 9/11 contingency plan was in place. Authorities have rehearsed no-fly zones and anti-hijack operations in the skies above host cities.

Jordaan said police reinforcements to protect the anticipated 450,000 foreign visitors will be in place two weeks before and two weeks after the June-July event.

Given that 9 million tourists visit South Africa each year – an average 700,000 per month – World Cup tourists should not pose any additional problems, Jordaan said.

South Africa wants to use the World Cup as an international showcase to persuade even more people to visit its stunning wildlife, fabulous beaches and cultural richness.

“The security and safety around this event is of particular importance because we want to move beyond 10 million tourists a year, and that means everyone must be safe and secure so they will want to return,” Jordaan said.