Sunday, 11 April marks 20 years since the Ellis Park disaster which left a black mark on local football.
The country’s worst sporting tragedy took place during a Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in 2001.
A total of 43 supporters were killed in the stampede.
According to reports the stadium was packed to its 60 000 capacity, but a further 30 000 people tried to make their way in.
Kaizer Chiefs chairperson Kaizer Motaung delivered a message on the 29-year anniversary.
11 April 2021.
It is the 20th anniversary of the Ellis Park disaster.
This day belongs to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones on this day and to all those who were injured. You are in our thoughts and you are in our prayers. We wish the Almighty gives you strength and want you to know we are always together with you on this day.
We should always remember this day. It was a day that left a very black mark on our history and it was a very dark day for South African football. It can never be removed from our memories, because of what we saw and what happened. So, every game we play we should always remember them, especially if we do come to play at Ellis Park, which has not been the case in the current period.
Whenever we go to the stadium, we always want to ensure people come there to enjoy themselves, as they had come to do on that day. People had gathered at Ellis Park to come and witness what was a beautiful game of football and all expectations were very high for this game. It was a beautiful game and all was going well. Once the game started, where I was seated I could see there was a commotion taking place in one part of the stadium in the corner, which ultimately resulted in the stoppage of the game. Security and everybody was called upon to attend to the situation, where a stampede had occurred as a result of people forcing their way and coming into the stadium.
It’s very sad that a beautiful day turned out to be a very sad day for the families who lost their loved ones. Fans came to witness a beautiful game of football, but unfortunately something intervened and turned it into something else which we were not able to understand.
From this event itself I think as football we’ve learnt quite a lot of lessons and done many things emanating from the unfortunate occurrence of this fateful day. We had to change a lot of things and make sure in future we don’t again experience an event of this nature any more. The lessons learnt from that game have actually accelerated us into ensuring the lives of people must be prioritized when we have such big events. And hence to this day we have not had any event that could have triggered something of this nature.
Again, we call on the Almighty God and we pray that he gathers the families and those who were injured and gives them strength and continues to take care of them.
I stand here on behalf of Kaizer Chiefs and the soccer fraternity to say this day will remain a very important day in all our lives and we thank you for the support over the years in terms of what we and the families have been going through.
I pray that this kind of event will never happen again.
I thank you.