After a spate of robberies targeting foreign journalists and players before the opener kicks off, South Africa on Thursday urged World Cup visitors to exercise caution against crime.

“We appeal to citizens and visitors to also exercise care of their personal safety and those around them,” government spokesman Themba Maseko said in a statement.

“Of the country’s 190,000 police officers, only 40,000 have been allocated to World Cup operations. These officers will be supported by their counterparts from the 32 participating teams,” he said.

According to media reports, four Chinese journalists were mugged in the centre of Johannesburg on Wednesday, the same day armed men robbed three foreign journalists in the country’s northwest. Three members of the Greek team said money was stolen from their hotel rooms.

“Policing of the country and ensuring the safety and security of all within it remains a 24-hour operation,” said Themba Maseko, a government spokesman. “Those in distress are requested to report to relevant authorities and the appropriate assistance will be rendered.”

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