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

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

Keba Mothoagae
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:00 PM
In this article:
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  • On April 11, 2001, 43 people were crushed to death in a stampede at Ellis Park during a match between the Pirates and the Chiefs
  • The Ellis Park Stadium Disaster resulted in 250 people being injured in what is a dark mark on the face of South African sports
  • 42 spectators lost their lives in Orkney almost a decade earlier when both teams played a match at the Oppenheimer Stadium

April 11, 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.

ellis park stadium disaster, orlando pirates, kaizer chiefs, south africa, 11 april 2001, rosswin nation, mduduzi thomo
The families of Rosswin Nation and Mduduzi Thomo lay wreaths of remembrance of the Ellis Park Stadium Disaster. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.
Source: UGC

More than 250 others were injured at the venue, that was over its capacity by several thousands of spectators.

According to SA History Online, a police spokesperson said between 90 000 and 120 000 people were in and around the stadium, which has a capacity of 60 000 spectators.

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It was reported that 29 fans perished inside the stadium, with another 14 passing away outside.

Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Ellis Park, disaster, killed, fans, stadium, tragedy, sport, South Africa, football
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.

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 well-being 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:

"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."

Orkney Stadium Disaster claims 42

Staggeringly, 10 years before the Ellis Park tragedy, another disaster involving the Soweto giants had occurred.

On January 13, 1991, 42 spectators lost their lives at the Orkney Stadium in what is now the North West province.

Sports Brief reported that Chiefs and Pirates commemorated the disaster with statements to the country's media.

Keba Mothoagae photo
Keba Mothoagae
Editor- Local Desk
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