Prince Chauke and another, as yet unnamed fan wanted, like tens of thousands of others, to take in the Soweto derby at the FNB Stadium. Instead they lost their lives.
It is unspeakable and heartbreaking, and brings to the fore again memories of April 11 2001, when 43 people were killed in the Ellis Park disaster. It remains to be seen, following an inquest conducted into Saturday’s tragic events, exactly what caused the crowd stampede. Much has been done, following the inquest into the events of 2001, to to ensure the safety of fans attending South Africa’s most popular sporting spectacle.
Yet it is clearly not enough, following the weekend’s events. What has also not been good enough, is the Premier Soccer League and other parties’ response to the tragic events.
I have some sympathy for the fact that the game carried on despite the news of the deaths filtering through. If those in charge of the security at FNB Stadium deemed that stopping the game was likely to create a greater risk of more problems at the stadium, then I can see why they kept playing.
What is not understandable is why the PSL subsequently appeared to abdicate responsibility for anything that happened on Saturday, referring to the fact that the Carling Black Label Cup final does not fall under their auspices. Whatever the technicalities of this game, the PSL needed to come out with a statement immediately offering their condolences to those concerned. That they opted to rather deflect responsibility speaks extremely badly of them as an organisation.
Then we had a press conference yesterday, where Dr Irvin Khoza, speaking in his capacity of Orlando Pirates chairman, said they would be asking the PSL to conduct an inquest into Saturday’s events. So the PSL (of which Khoza is also chairman), have been asked to start an inquest into an event they claim is not their responsibility.
Outsiders are entitled to ask exactly what is going on, and the fact that questions were refused at the same press conference speaks of cowardice from all concerned.
We bring more details of this press conference opposite, and we also reflect on these pages on a game which Chiefs won fairly comfortably despite the narrow scoreline. Chiefs must be careful, however, of getting over-confident as success in this competition last year led only to a very poor domestic season.
Pirates also had a dreadful campaign and are showing little sign of sorting themselves out in time for the new season. Even if they appoint Milutin Sredojevic, as seems increasingly likely, he has little time to sort out the mess at the Buccaneers.
Elsewhere in this week’s Phakaaathi, meanwhile, we speak to Wandisile Letlabika on taking over the captaincy at Bloemfontein Celtic, and we talk to John Comitis about possible changes to the Caf Champions League that could mean that Cape Town City play in next year’s competition.
It would certainly be interesting to see how a side that surprised domestically last season does in Africa’s biggest competition under new coach Benni McCarthy.
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