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Officials try to figure out why Chiefs vs Pirates Soweto derby ended in tragedy at FNB Stadium

30 July 2017 - 15:12 By Njabulo Ngidi
The scene outside FNB Stadium after the stampede that killed two people.
The scene outside FNB Stadium after the stampede that killed two people.
Image: via Twitter

The stampede at FNB Stadium that led to the death of two people was allegedly caused by fans with fake tickets and those without any tickets who tried to force their way into the sold-out arena.

Thousands of fans sat in oblivion at FNB Stadium‚ watching the Carling Black Label Champion Cup on Saturday‚ unaware that two people had lost their lives in a stampede outside the venue.

The Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Public Safety in the City of Johannesburg‚ Michael Sun‚ confirmed the news just after 4pm‚ during the first half of the Soweto Derby clash between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

The match continued and no announcement was made about the tragedy during the game.

Stadium Management chief executive Jacques Grobbelaar confirmed in a statement he read after the match that‚ “two fatalities caused by blunt force trauma‚ one critically injured person and 19 people sustained minor injuries. One child was among the people with minor injuries.”

“The stadium has been declared a crime scene and the police have taken it over to investigate the cause of the death‚” Sun said.

“It is alleged that people with fake tickets tried to force their way into the stadium which led to the stampede. But those are just allegations at this stage.

"The police are investigating everything relating to the matter and that’s when the truth will come out.”

This was the third time that people lost their lives in a Soweto Derby.

On April 11‚ 2001‚ 43 people died during a stampede at Ellis Park and on January 13‚ 1991‚ 42 lives were lost in a friendly match at Oppenheimer Stadium in Orkney.

There were a number of empty seats when the match kicked off on Saturday just after 3.30pm.

Grobbelaar revealed that a risk assessment was done before the match and they were assured that it can go ahead without delaying kick off to ensure that the thousands that were still streaming in were given ample time to make their way inside.

“There were no reasons to believe that there were any risks at the time of kick off‚" Grobelaar said.

"It (delaying kick off) was discussed but it wasn’t implemented because there was no need for it.”

Eyewitnesses allege that fans tried to force their way inside the venue in numerous other gates‚ including Gate J where the deaths occurred.

“What we can say at this stage is that traffic was very carefully planned for this event‚” Chief Superintendent of the Johannesburg Metro Police Wayne Minnaar said.

“By 11am Soweto Highway was blocked off and by midday we were able to block the Nasrec Road for careful control of the fans coming into the stadium. However‚ there was a stampede or pushing at some of the entrants.

"That resulted in a very sad situation. We know that the matter is being investigated. All other allegations as to why it happened are being investigated. That’s where we wish to leave it for now.” What They Said

The sponsors “As a brand and as a business‚ we send our condolences out to everyone who was affected earlier today.

"It was extremely unfortunate and honestly I am at a loss for words as a result‚ but I do want to end this on a positive note just in terms of what we have been able to do this year and not just about the game or the match day but about the development of football.” – Carling Black Label Brand Director‚ Samori Gambrah.

The South African Football Association (Safa) “We are going to ask for a full report and institute a full investigation on what transpired and the cause for the stampede.

"I would also like to wish the injured speedy recovery. A football match is supposed to be a place of entertainment. What happened to at FNB Stadium is very unfortunate.” – Safa president Danny Jordaan.

Kaizer Chiefs “Kaizer Chiefs offers our sincere condolences to those who lost their loved ones during the Carling Black Label Cup on Saturday‚ 29 July 2017.

"The day was never meant to end with such sadness. Our Love and Peace go to the families that lost their beloved ones and we wish the injured a speedy recovery.”

Orlando Pirates “Orlando Pirates Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and injury that occurred at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

"We wish to express our profound condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.

"We supplicate that God gives you fortitude at this moment of extreme grief and pain. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the supporter who remains in hospital in a critical condition and also wish all others who were injured a speedy recovery.”

The mayor “I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families of the two residents who tragically lost their lives during a stampede at the Carling Black Label: Chiefs vs Pirates soccer match held at FNB Stadium (on Saturday).

"The cause of the stampede is under investigation by the South African Police Service (SAPS)... The City will be working with the SAPS to ensure that the cause of this tragedy is investigated.

"This sad loss of life at such a highly anticipated event is indeed a tragedy and the City will work with all the relevant authorities to prevent tragedies such as this in future.” – Executive Mayor‚ Herman Mashaba.

- TimesLIVE