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PSL prosecutor Becker explains why the Loftus pitch invasion case has still not been finalised

05 July 2017 - 11:56 By Marc Strydom
Orlando Pirates supporters on the rampage during the Absa Premiership match against Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on February 11, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Orlando Pirates supporters on the rampage during the Absa Premiership match against Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on February 11, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

PSL prosecutor Nande Becker believes he has to get the Loftus pitch invasion case completely right so that it results in a complete overhaul of how match security at stadiums is undertaken‚ or “we have another Ellis Park looming on us”‚ he has said.

The case – in which Mamelodi Sundowns as the home club‚ and Orlando Pirates‚ whose fans were the instigators‚ have been charged – has dragged on for almost six months now.

Premier Soccer League legal head Michael Murphy had promised a hearing in June on the incident during Sundowns’ 6-0 league thrashing of Pirates on February 11.

Becker said he hoped to have a hearing in about two weeks.

He said the importance and complexity of the case have seen it take so long.

“For future crowd safety this is an absolutely‚ absolutely vital case. It’s got to be done properly because of the precedent that this case sets‚” Becker told TimesLIVE.

“I’ve scratched my head as to why all of a sudden there was a surge in crowd violence. You can look at the economy of the country and the politics. But we’ve got to do something.

“But there’s also no quick fix. So this thing had to be done properly from the word go.

“It’s a hot potato. There’s a much bigger picture here. I’d like to be able to take my family‚ and go and sit there in the stands and watch football. I can’t do it right now.

“And the only way that the PSL can stop it is not even from a buy-in from the clubs‚ but by forcing clubs to come to the party as well.”

Becker was asked if this case can change the way match security and crowd violence are addressed in future.

“Yes it has to‚” he said.

“This case has to change specifically the attitude of the fans‚ and the clubs as well. The attitude towards crowd violence is in serious need of an overhaul in South Africa.

“And that comes at all levels.

"From the lowest‚ from fans‚ from the clubs‚ the governing body‚ the police – everybody needs to relook security and how it is applied for events of this nature because we’ve got another Ellis Park looming on us.”

Becker said he would make several recommendations that extend beyond just his verdict.

“There are no quick fixes and there is not a silver bullet – something that the PSL can do that’s going to change things overnight.

"We’ve got to look at the security aspect‚ education of the fans‚ educating the clubs and the way that they deal with these things as well. There has got to be a publicity campaign.”

Perhaps further complicating the case‚ and adding pressure on Becker‚ are a high possibility of the matter being taken to arbitration and the high court by the disciplined parties.

Among issues to be taken into consideration are the apparently woefully inadequate security on the day.

There appeared to be provocation of the crowd by certain Sundowns officials.

The two clubs’ legal representatives have apparently asked questions on responsibility.

“We’ve got special circumstances that we are dealing with‚” Becker‚ who has had exhaustive meetings with the legal representatives of both clubs already‚ said.

- TimesLIVE

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