Fourty-three confirmed dead in Ellis Park stampede

At least 43 supporters died in a tragic stampede, which ended the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at Ellis Park on Wednesday night.

With the stadium already packed to capacity, scores of supporters outside were still trying to make their way in and this resulted in a stampede in the east wing.

The situation became worse following a 15th minute goal by Tony Illodigwe which placed Chiefs in the lead as supporters in the east wing started celebrating the goal.

When Pirates equalised two minutes later through Benedict Vilakazi, those who were still outside could not wait to get in and there were scuffles with the gate security guards.

Doctors and paramedics rushed to the scene of the crisis to help the injured and the Premier League chief executive Robin Petersen stopped the match in the 33rd minute, while supporters were ordered to clear the east wing tunnel.

When the game was halted nine people were already reported dead inside the stadium and 15 outside.

The defence force was called in to help control the crowd and those with minor injuries were treated on the field while others were rushed to hospital by ambulance. The seriously injured were airlifted to the nearest hospital while the dead were taken to the Hillbrow morgue.

Addressing the crowd, Chiefs managing director Kaizer Motaung said it would be difficult to continue with the game under the circumstances and this was met with a roar of approval from the supporters.

“We are very sad about what happened here today,” said Motaung. “It will be difficult for the players to continue after what has just happened.”

“Morally we are obliged to cancel the match to honour the bereaved. Thank you for your patience and we are truly sorry about this tragedy,” said Motaung.

Supporters were urged to keep their tickets for the replay at a date yet to be announced. The PSL will address the media on Thursday about the issue and an announcement about the new date for the fixture.

Pirates boss Irvin Khoza reiterated Motaung’s comments and stressed that the names of the bereaved would not be announced until their families have been notified.