Ellis Park victims get a monument
Ellis Park victims get a monument

Posted in News on Apr 09, 2002.

A monument with the names of the 43 soccer fans who lost their lives in the Ellis Park disaster on April 11 last year will be unveiled on Thursday.

Ellis Park interim report out

A one-hour service organised jointly by Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and the Ellis Park Stadium to honour the memory of the victims will take place on the anniversary of the tragedy.

Crisis centre co-ordinator Sonnyboy Mmatli said at least 500 people were expected, including the families of the victims, representatives from Chiefs and Pirates, Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour, and Archbishop Njengonkulu Ndungane. Speakers will include Balfour, Kaizer Motaung, the Kaizer Chiefs managing director and Irvin Khoza, the Orlando Pirates chairman.

"The basis of this service will be prayer. We will unveil the memorial at gate four where the actual stampede happened and someone will speak on behalf of the families," said Mmatli.

Though a year had passed, Mmatli said, the crisis centre was still assisting the relatives of the dead and the injured.

"There were 120 people who were injured and some of them like Lucky Morule and Ephraim Mofokeng, who were semi-paralysed, still attend therapy.

"The community has not closed this chapter and we have built trust between ourselves and the families and also become a bridge between them and football authorities. We offer assistance in terms of advice."

Mmatli said there were still companies asking for the account number to deposit money to assist.

Forty-three spectators died when fans forced their way through gate four in the north east corner of the stadium during a Premier Soccer League match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on the fateful Wednesday night.

Though both clubs said many lessons had been learnt from the tragedy, they also agreed that instilling a culture of pre-sale tickets and early arrival at the stadiums was going to take a while.

"Because of where we come from, it is going to be a process, we need to teach our fans this. We try and organise incentives and competitions before the game to encourage people to come to the stadium early," said Pirates brand manager, Zodwa Khoza.

"There is still a long way to go in terms of stadium punctuality, but we need patience. It has to be a concerted effort," said Chiefs spokesman Putco Mafani.

Since the tragedy a Chiefs-Pirates derby has not been played at Ellis Park Stadium, nor at night anywhere else.

A commission of inquiry was established, not with the aim to prosecute but to find ways of ensuring that there is no re-occurrence.

An interim report has been compiled and handed to the sports ministry. It is currently with the president's office and is yet to be released to the public.

Many questions by the families -- such as could the crowd have been properly controlled and who should take the blame -- have not been answered.

Their loved ones have been commemorated in the monument's inscription: "Siyohlala Sinikhumbula (we will always remember you)".

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