chapter  7
‘Like Cows Driven to a Dip’: The 2001 Ellis Park Stadium Disaster in South Africa
Pages 15

On Wednesday 11 April 2001, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates took the field at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, for a derby with the league championship at stake. As the 8 p.m. kick-off time approached, the 62,000-seat stadium was bursting at the seams with more than 80,000 fans squeezed into every seat, aisle, and access way. Outside the arena, thousands of fans pressed to get inside to watch the country’s two most popular clubs. A portion of this massive crowd in the north-eastern corner of Ellis Park surged forward. A suffocating crush ensued. Veli Mpungose, his nine-year-old daughter Londiwe and 13-year-old son Siphiwe were trapped at the top of a steep stairway. ‘I felt something push us away. We were scared. We thought the stadium had collapsed’, Mpungose said. ‘I was trying to rescue Londiwe and when I reached for Siphiwe, there were … big guys lying on top of him. I felt his pulse and I couldn’t feel anything. He was dead already.’