Thabo Mooki reflects on Ellis Park disaster 11 April, 2001
Thabo Mooki reflects on Ellis Park disaster 11 April, 2001

Posted in Features, News on Apr 11, 2024.

Former Kaizer Chiefs midfield maestro and current coach of the Kaizer Chiefs legends team, Thabo ‘Tsiki Tsiki’ Mooki, is still filled with emotions when he looks back 23 years ago to 11 April, 2001, when 43 fans perished at a game between Kaizer Chiefs and their rivals Orlando Pirates at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.

“The day began like every match day. We were filled with excitement and so were the fans. It was an important match,” Mooki reflects, before adding, “When the game started, we did not know what was going on. When the game stopped, we were told that there was a stampede. Only later did we get to know what had actually unfolded.”

For the former Chiefs number 12 and his teammates it was a stressful situation and dealing with the aftermath of the passing of the fans at the game was something that they had not dealt with previously.

Fortunately for them, support was at hand. “We had a captains committee of senior players and we were able to get the help we needed to ensure that the players were able to continue - emotionally and psychologically - and play in the memory of the fans. As a player at that stage in my career, I had never had the experience of people passing at a game and it was traumatic for us,” he explains.

Mooki, as he does each year at this time, sympathises with the family members who have lost loved ones: “I say, may the souls of all those who passed that evening rest in peace. Amongst them were breadwinners for their families, important community leaders, children, fathers and mothers. For those families who lost these members, to this day I sympathise with them and feel for what they went through.”

Mooki also marks every anniversary by taking time out to reflect on what happened on that fateful evening in April, 2001.

“Like I said, these people who passed all meant something to their families, and to us. It is fitting that we think about them and what happened to them, and ensure that fans enjoy the spectacle that is football safely,” he says.

The game was abandoned on the night and was replayed almost two months later, with Mooki scoring in a 1-0 win. He dedicated his match winning goal and performance to the memory of the fans who perished that night.

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