Page last updated at 18:20 GMT, Monday, 22 March 2010

South Africa police get fit for World Cup


South Africa police face fat camp

South Africa's police have launched a fitness regime to battle obesity, after worries were raised about their ability to keep fans safe at the World Cup.

Police commissioner Bheki Cele said new recruits should fit into the same-size uniform for their whole careers.

Officers needing a larger size will be given a year to slim down or face being kicked off the force, he said.

Earlier this month, a study found almost half the officers in Port Elizabeth were clinically obese.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Pretoria says the police are trying to show that they are up to the task of protecting some 400,000 football fans expected for the World Cup.

Gym and slim

During a news conference, Mr Cele demonstrated the kind of lifestyle he wanted his officers to lead by completing an aerobics exercise, running 400m and tucking into a healthy breakfast.

"Police officers should be able to walk with their heads held high, their stomach in, and chest out - not the other way around," he said.

The country has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world - and the police are often accused of being unfit and trigger happy.

Former world boxing champion "Baby" Jake Matlala, who is supporting the programme, said fitter police would make the country better.

"I'm sure they'll shoot less and run more," he said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The new measures for officers come months after senior managers began compulsory gym sessions.

Mr Cele has said sports stars such as ex-footballer Lucas Radebe have agreed to help with the fitness programmes.

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