On This Day, 11 April 2011: 43 Fans Killed in Ellis Park Stadium Disaster

On This Day, 11 April 2011: 43 Fans Killed in Ellis Park Stadium Disaster

  • On 11 April 2001, 43 people were crushed to death in a stampede that happened at Ellis Park during a football match between Orlando Pirates
  • It was the worst stadium disaster in South African sports history, with 250 people being injured in the tragedy now known as the Ellis Park Stadium Disaster
  • Unfortunately, this was not the only time such an incident occurred in local football, as 42 spectators lost their lives in 1991 in Orkney when both teams played a match at the Oppenheimer Stadium

11 April 2001 will live on infamy as one of the darkest days in South African sporting history.

In what has become known as the Ellis Park Stadium Disaster, 43 people were killed in a stampede at a football match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. More than 250 others were injured in a venue that was over its capacity by thousands of spectators.

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ellis park stadium disaster, orlando pirates, kaizer chiefs
Rescue services work around victims of a stampede on 11 April 2001 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Source: Getty Images

According to SA History Online, a police spokesperson said between 90 000 and 120 000 people were in and around the stadium that has a capacity of 60 000 spectators. It was reported that 29 fans perished inside the stadium, with another 14 passing away outside.

On This Day, 11 April 2011: 43 Fans Killed in Ellis Park Stadium Disaster
All the names of the victims of the Ellis Park Stadium Disaster: Image source: Kaizer Chiefs Facebook page.
Source: Facebook

Even more horrifying is that several children, including 11-year-old Rosswinn Nation and 13-year-old Siphiwe Mpungose were among those who lost their lives.

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Forty-two people were killed in 1991 in Orkney at the Oppenheimer Stadium during another match between the Pirates and the Chiefs.

Fans who were interviewed after the tragedy criticised both clubs' handling of safety measures that night, levelling accusations of them interested in selling tickets more than the wellbeing of fans. Law enforcement was also blamed for allowing disorderly conduct outside the venue.

Stalwart commentator Mark Gleeson shared similar sentiments in an interview on an investigative programme Special Assignment at the time, saying:

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"As long as they can get your R50 at the gate and get you into the crowd, and put that money into their coffers, then they are happy. You are a commodity to them. You're not a person. That's the sad thing about South African football."

Kaizer Chiefs is thus far the only organisation that has commemorated the event on its 21st anniversary, with the Premier Soccer League and Orlando Pirates expected to do so at some point today.

The club's marketing director Jessica Motaung said on the Chiefs' website:

"It is truly a day that remains in our hearts. While we reflect on the day, we continue to convey our condolences to the families of those who perished in the disaster.
We have tried to honour their legacy – and those from the 1991 Orkney tragedy – by heeding the bitter lessons we learned in our quest to avoid the recurrence of anything of that nature.”

Source: SportsBrief.com