Sports minister must control probe into stampede

01 August 2017 - 07:06
By The Times Editorial
Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
Image: Masi Losi/Sunday Times Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula. File photo.

Soccer fans would be forgiven if they spontaneously rolled their eyes when they heard that ''an independent person of unquestionable integrity" would be asked to investigate the circumstances that led to a fatal stampede at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

This person will investigate whether there were any safety and security-related shortcomings that contributed to the deaths of two people at the sold-out Carling Black Label Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

This person will be instructed to provide a full report to the Premier Soccer League's executive committee within 14 days. Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza and his Chiefs counterpart, Kaizer Motaung, said yesterday they had written a letter to acting PSL CEO Mato Madlala to get the ball rolling.

The problem is there is still the small matter of another issue involving Pirates that has been dragging on for months with no end in sight. Pirates fans went on the rampage after their side was hammered 6-0 by Sundowns during a league match at Loftus in February and there's a chance this long-running saga will still be unresolved when the new season starts next month.

So it's hard to blame those who are sceptical the stampede probe will go anywhere fast.

Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi must take the lead on this one and we are glad to see he will constitute a ministerial commission of inquiry.

This is the third Soweto Derby in which lives have been lost and stern action is needed.

Lest we forget, 42 people died in Orkney in 1991 and 43 lost their lives at Ellis Park Stadium in 2001.

While Khoza and Motaung say they will recuse themselves from the investigation, that is simply not good enough. Chiefs and Pirates cannot investigate themselves.

No, Nxesi must take control.