TODAY marks 15 years since the worst sporting tragedy in the country.
At least 43 people died at the Ellis Park stampede in 2001 in a Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
An early equaliser by Pirates via Benedict Vilakazi’s boot sparked a nightmare where an almost 60 000 capacity crowd was already in the stadium and a further 30 000 wanted to force their way into the ground to see the match.
Vilakazi’s goal cancelled Tony Ilodigwe’s earlier goal on that evening when the game was stopped with both teams locked 1-1.
Reports have suggested that badly trained security personnel shot stun grenades, which made matters worse, with people running around while others were being crushed to death.
It is believed that hundreds of fans were admitted to different hospitals after what has been termed SA’s worst sporting day.
Pictures of the scene, with bodies of the dead laid on the pitch for identification, on that night will forever remain in the memories of all people who watched the match.
“History loses meaning when it fails to help us learn and take precautions going forward,” said Club Chairman Dr Irvin Khoza.
He added: “People always say that what happened in 1994 – a free and democratic South Africa was a miracle. I say it was not a miracle, it happened because of the mental capabilities of South Africans.
The PSL and SA Football Association commemorates the day annually by holding prayer sessions at Ellis Park, the actual venue of the disaster, and burning incense to appease the spirit of the dead.
Acting PSL chief executive Mato Madlala couldn’t shed any light on their plans today.
The second worst tragedy, the Oppenheimer Stadium disaster, mirrored this one as it involved the same two teams. Forty-two people died in 1991 in a stampede after too many fans were admitted to the stadium in Orkney.
“Following the Ellis Park disaster in 2001, we are now witnessing South Africans take on another so-called miracle. Nowhere in the world will you see supporters of two rival clubs sitting together. However, here in South Africa our supporters continue to buck this senseless trend and out of their own initiative decided now ‘we will go to derbies and sit together’. Now people go to matches in the same car and support different teams as friends or family. The Ellis Park disaster for me will forever be celebrated by the wish that supporters made of their own volition to sit with each other “Kaizer Motaung and myself understand the meaning of coopertition– we compete for 90 minutes but we cooperate afterwards,” he concluded.
Madikana Samuel Selepe, 39, Diepsloot
Johannes Mandla Mthembu, 36, Palm Springs, Vaal
Johannes Motlasi Letsoara, 35, Potchefstroom
Sphiwa Esrome Mpungose, 13, Burgersdale, West Rand
Ivan Jeffrey Bezuidenhout, 39, Potchefstroom
Mbulelo Diniso, 25, Orlando East
Veleta Eunice Mouton, 26, Windmill Park, East Rand
Rosswin Andre Nation, 11, Ennerdale Pretty
Lephina Phatsisi, 26, Balfour
Jabu Maliyon Mkhize, 33, Delmas
Alpheus Sethlake, 41, Alexandra
Gideon Mudau, 34, Kromdraai, Midrand
Jabulisile Xaba, 25, Berea, Johannesburg
Danny Tigerls, 30, Pietersburg
Angelina Mncube, 28, Joubert Park, Johannesburg
Callistus Dumisani Dube, 29, Balfour Park, Johannesburg
Mduduzi Thomo, 27, Jabulani, Soweto
Tsietsi Daniel Wae, 54, Kagiso
Michael Tsolo Nyakane, 41, Orkney
Steven Modise Tshetlo, 42, Delpark, East Rand
Calvin Arnolds, 34, Ennerdale
Lefa James Lefera, Gauteng
Rakgabo Frans Shongoane, 34, Pretoria
Ernest Mandla Moyo, 33, Berea, Johannesburg
John Oupa Mbambata, 34, Delareyville
Deborah Selina Maphanga, 25, Duduza
Thandi Merrium Thabethe, 23, Standerton
Abel Tshabangu, 35, Diepkloof, Soweto
Elias Ngomane, 21, Johannesburg
Nkosana Elliot Hlongwane, 40, Katlehong
Nhlanhla Meshack Zulu, 30, Duduza
Raymond Mfana Gwala, 47, Zamdela
Senki Jacob Mzizi, 47, Tsakane
Stanley Tshikovhi, Tembisa
Selaala Pae Maloma, Schoononborg
Gugu Majozi, Jabulani, Soweto
Maggie Luthuli, Protea Glen, Soweto
Robert Molako, Atteridgeville
Kenneth Msimango, Thokoza
Frans More, Dobsonville
Jabulane Raymond Baloi, Tembisa
Bafana Isaac Mabuza, Tembisa
Mampo Rinah Ntsoane, Berea, Johannesburg