Agency blames fans without tickets for stadium deaths
'As the gate flung open due to the pressure — chants of Push! Push! Push! were heard by eyewitnesses'
The accident during the Soweto soccer derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium on Saturday in which two people were killed and 20 others injured was caused by fans without tickets trying to gain access to the stadium‚ Stadium Management SA said on Sunday.
Despite the presence of the police and private security a small group of people without match tickets "forced a number of emergency gates open in a rolling wave, breaching the perimeter gates gaining illegal access to the stadium" at about 3.10pm on Saturday, 20 minutes before the scheduled kick-off of the Carling Black Label Cup match at FNB Stadium‚ Stadium Management SA said.
However‚ it dismissed claims of a stampede.
"As the gate flung open due to the pressure of these people pushing on the gate — chants of ‘Push! Push! Push!’ were heard by eyewitnesses — the people pushing at the front of the gate fell over and the people from behind literally clambered right over them‚ causing blunt-force trauma injuries in doing so. Therefore, it will be incorrect in stating this was a stampede as a stampede is a wild sudden mass panic of a number of people in the same direction‚" it said.
Members of the venue operations centre and stadium management staff who witnessed the incident‚ "at risk to their own wellbeing‚ went to the assistance of those who had fallen over". Medical assistance was called to the scene and responded within three to four minutes‚ according to witnesses. Two of the people who were trampled died of blunt-force trauma injuries. One other person has since been taken off life support and is in a stable condition, while 19 others have sustained minor injuries‚ of which a number have been discharged‚ the statement read.
Stadium Management SA said in terms of the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act, an interdisciplinary public and private sector event safety and security and planning committee‚ chaired by an authorised member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) had been established in May to plan for the event. The SAPS member had the "overall authority" to direct safety and security measures at the event. Police had categorised it as a medium-risk event.
"No less than seven ESSPC [event safety and security planning committee] safety and security planning meetings and a series of‚ among others‚ ESSPC security and transport management subcommittee meetings were held‚ under the chairmanship and direction of the ESSPC chairperson‚ in the lead-up to [Saturday’s] event. A properly and comprehensively documented ESSPC event safety and security plan was prepared for the event."