New Plymouth is still having severe problems with its street thugs.
Graeme Waswo, a Taranaki limousine company owner, was so badly beaten-up by punks high on ‘P’ after the All Blacks -v. Ireland test on Saturday night that he is not going to refuse to let his vehicles enter the towns CBD at night during the three matches the town is scheduled to host during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
It is so dangerous that he wouldn’t be able to guarantee the safety of clients or staff.
Mr Waswo knows a thing or two about security. He’s recently returned after spending the last two years organising logistics for the world cup in South Africa, he’d also spent 20 years in the US handling security and logicistics for the Indy Cars but is adamant there is nowhere more dangerous than New Plymouth at night. Strong words, sure to strike dismay into the hearts of those keen to promote New Zealand as a ‘safe’ destination for visitors.
“His company owns 19 luxury vehicles for executive hire. They’re already fully booked for the three Rugby World Cup matches scheduled for New Plymouth – but now, after being attacked while on the job after the All Blacks-Ireland test, he intends cancelling the bookings.
“They can either stay in the shed, or I’ll take all the cars off the road before 7pm,” he said.
“I’m not going to put my drivers or my clients at risk. I will not run my cars in the central area for any major sporting event – Rugby World Cup included.”
Mr Waswo is an internationally-recognised consultant on transport and security logistics for major sporting events, and returned to Taranaki just days ago after spending two years helping organise the logistics for the football World Cup in South Africa.
Yesterday he was sporting a black eye and badly swollen face after the beating by a group of what he labelled “P-fuelled thugs” in New Plymouth’s CBD.
The attack happened while he was chauffeuring a group of All Blacks sponsors, who had to get out of the car to help.
Yesterday Mr Waswo refused to have his photograph taken, nor would he reveal the identity of his clients.
No sponsor was injured, and Mr Waswo’s $400,000 Mercedes-Benz S600 was not damaged. But he says he is furious groups of young thugs are allowed to roam the city’s CBD looking for trouble.
“I spent 20 years travelling the USA working on security and logistics with the Indy Cars, and I’ve spent the last two years helping organise things for the soccer World Cup in South Africa – and I’m telling you, there’s nowhere more dangerous than New Plymouth at night,” he said.
Saturday night was a bloody disgrace. It wasn’t the rugby people who were causing the trouble – they were just having a great time – but it was the groups of young guys prowling round, looking for fights.”
Mr Waswo was beaten up when one of the group he was chauffeuring wanted to go to the toilet, and he parked outside public toilets on Gover St.
“A bunch of young Maori guys turned up. One of them threw something at the car, and when I got out to stop that from happening they just took to me,” he said.
“A security guard from a bar across the road as well as a group of teenagers nearby came to help me. And the All Blacks sponsors got out of the car and got stuck in too.
New Plymouth police acting commander Blair Telford said he was not aware of the assault…”
Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that the town is adequately equipped to deal with violent crime during the World cup, does it? New Zealand has a lot to learn from South Africa.
Related story: Police in Wellington are investigating three separate assaults following the All Blacks and South Africa match on 17 July 2010 link.
See also other New Plymouth stories
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Indian student attacked in New Plymouth no longer feels safe in New Zealand – student savagely beaten in a graveyard