What the Ellis Park Disaster taught me – Manenzhe


FARPost continues to remember the Ellis Park disaster which claimed the lives of 43 football fans on Wednesday, 11 April 2001 during a match between Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at Ellis Park Stadium.

One of the people who witnessed the terrible incident at the stadium is former Orlando Pirates striker and now SABC Sport Analyst Phumudzo Manenzhe.

Manenzhe had joined the Buccaneers senior team from their Academy and was at the stadium alongside the late Lesley Manyathela.

“I went to the stadium with the late Lesley Manyathela that evening because we were not in the 18 match day squad but we arrived there late. The stadium was packed but there were still a lot of people outside,” Manenzhe told FARPost.

“But as soon as we sat down I remember Tso (Benedict Vilakazi) scored a goal and people still kept running into the stadium. It only hit me when Putco Mafani (then Chiefs PRO) started to speak through a mic and the bodies of the supporters were being laid behind Brian Baloyi’s goalposts. For the rest of the club it was a total shock and I remember even some of us especially the young ones were breaking into tears,” he explains.

“That’s the lesson I learnt as a person that day because I might have been in that stampede because I was supposed to be early at the stadium but myself and Lesley were a bit late, from that day onwards Lesley and I were never late for training or anything that had to do with the club and that is one lesson I learnt from that unfortunate incident,” said the 36-year-old.

Following the incident Judge Bernard Ngoepe Commission made the following findings that led to the Tragedy;

– Poor Forecast of Match Attendance

– Failure by the role players to clearly identify and designate areas of responsibility.

– Absence of overall command of the Joint Operation Centre

– The inappropriate and untimely announcement that tickets were sold out

– Failure to adhere to FIFA and SAFA guidelines

– Unbecoming spectator behaviour

– Sale of tickets at the venue and unreserved seating

– The use of teargas or a similar substance

– Corruption on the part of certain members of the security personnel

– Dereliction of duty

– Failure to use the big screen

– Failure by the Public Order Police Unit to react timeously and effectively

Video above courtesy of Orlando Pirates.

RELATED STORY: Never forget the 43 who died at Ellis Park.

By Ofhani Munyai

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