SA soccer share blame for stampede
SA soccer share blame for stampede

Posted in News on Apr 10, 2002.

Soccer officials, private security personnel, the police and unruly fans share the blame for a stampede that killed 43 people and injured 158 at a soccer stadium last year, according to a report released Thursday.

"No single factor can be said to have been decisive,'' Judge Bernard Ngoepe, who headed the inquiry, said in an interim report released a year to the day after the riot.

The stampede happened during a match between two of South Africa's most popular teams, the Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates. It began when thousands of fans tried to force their way into Johannesburg's already full Ellis Park stadium.

Match organisers badly underestimated the size of the crowd, did not designate who should be responsible for crowd control and ignored regulations stating the game should not start until the situation inside and outside the stadium was under control, Ngoepe reported.

An estimated 80,000 people turned up to watch the match, 30,000 more than were expected. Just 4,000 tickets for the match were sold in advance.

"Evidence shows that there was dereliction of duty on the part of certain security officials,'' Ngoepe said.

People without tickets tried to storm into the stadium, ripping apart entrance gates and ignoring announcements that the stadium was full.

Their behavior was "reprehensible and deserves censure in the strongest possible terms,'' Ngoepe said.

He also found that security guards allowed people without tickets into the stadium in return for money and that tear gas or a similar substance had been fired into the crowd.

"The consequence of such an action was a panic reaction which either caused a stampede or aggravated it,'' he said.

A memorial service for the victims was held at the stadium Thursday.

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