Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

South Africa condemns World Cup stab-vests

Stab vest with England flag
Officials say the stab-vests might draw attention to those wearing them

South Africa's authorities have condemned a London-based company which wants to sell stab-vests to visiting football fans during the World Cup.

The national police says the company was causing "unnecessary fear".

South Africa's football boss Kirsten Nematandani has assured visitors that all safety measures were in place.

South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of violent crimes but the authorities say they will tighten security for the tournament.

Protektorvest, which currently sells its merchandise online, says there is a "high demand" for protective clothing and claim the stab-vests which cost close to $70 (£43) are the "No 1 personal protection for the World Cup 2010".

Fans can add their national flag to the vest, or slogans such as "Free hugs" or "Ole".

Protektorvest owner Sascha Cutura denied that the company was saying South Africa was unsafe.

"We fulfil a need from security-conscious people," he told the BBC.

'Out of order'

Mr Nematandani chastised the company's owners and called for them to be "condemned by their own country's officials".

"These people are out of order… we've never heard of such measures being taken before and there surely is no need for it," he said, South Africa's Times newspaper reports.

According to their website, the company plans to open offices near South Africa's OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg for the duration of the World Cup.

Mr Cutura said this is where the company hopes to sell most of its vests.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says security officers usually advise foreign travellers to guard against "standing out".

She says tourists wearing stab-vests at football matches or on sight-seeing trips may attract more attention to themselves - potentially increasing their chances of being attacked.

Mr Cutura pointed out that the vests could also be worn underneath clothes to avoid attracting too much attention.

Fan groups in England have also condemned the vests.

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