The dawn of this day always brings back the sad memories of what transpired at Ellis Park Stadium. The Kaizer Chiefs Chairman Kaizer Motaung remembers: “It is one fateful and unforgettable date. The picture remains vivid in my mind every time I think about that night.”
The Ellis Park Stadium disaster was the worst sporting accident in South African history where, on 11 April 2001, spectators poured into Ellis Park Stadium in the city of Johannesburg for the local Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, crushing 43 people to death.
“I will not get used to talking about this,” laments Motaung, “it happened, and it is part of our history. One philosopher George Santayana said, ‘those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. We are bound to refer to this unfortunate incident to renew and pledge our solidarity with the bereaved families and review the measures that were put in place as a result.”
“The Ngoepe Commission was appointed by former President Thabo Mbeki to investigate the cause of the stampede and make recommendations to avoid a similar occurrence in the future,” recalls Motaung. “My deepest feelings of sympathy to the families that lost their beloved stays on. We always keep them in our prayers because we share their pain as the football family.”
A plaque has since been unveiled by the Ellis Park Stadium management and various stakeholders to remember the deceased. “The day is remembered in various ways by different stakeholders,“ says Motaung. “A prayer ceremony at the stadium is part of the commemoration and I know there will be visitations to mark the day at Ellis Park Stadium to show respects.”
I wish to reiterate on behalf of the Kaizer Chiefs Family my condolences to the families and wish that the departed rest in the everlasting peace.