10 000 stampede for 30 jobs

2011-10-08 18:23

Five job seekers who were seriously injured during a stampede at the Transnet offices in Bloemfontein on Friday are in a stable condition in hospital.

69 people were injured when approximately 10 000 people queued to apply for 30 jobs.

Free State health department spokesperson Jabu Mbalula said one person was critically injured and four were in a serious condition.

Mboniso Sigonyela, spokesperson for Transnet, said the company expected about 4 000 job seekers to react to an advert by one of its divisions – Transnet Rail Engineering.

But by 7am on Friday an estimated 5 000 people were already queuing at their offices in Navalsig.

“In total about 10 000 candidates responded and the crowd became unruly, some started jumping over the fence, forcing security to lock the gates”, said Sigonyela. He said the crowd continued to push the gate, resulting in a stampede.

Ishmael Mponya, one of the desperate job seekers, said thousands of people were already queuing when he joined them at 6.30am.
“I’m from Virginia and left home around 4am, hitch-hiking to Bloemfontein.”

Mponya said the security guards at the gates of the offices told people that only 100 people at a time could enter to write the assessment test.

He said some job seekers got upset and accused the security guards of being biased for allowing some people to cut in front of the line.

“The next thing, chaos broke out and people were hurt”, said Mponya.

A very angry Patricia Swartland (29) said she left Kimberley on Thursday for Bloemfontein to be on time for the assessment test.

“My friends and I slept in the car on Thursday night and went to freshen up at a petrol station, but when we arrived at the Transnet offices, the queue was already stretching around the corner”, said Swartland.

She said a rumour reached people at the back of the queue that the security guards were going to close the gates because they already had enough applicants.

“It’s then that people from the back of the queue stormed the gates.”

Mbalula said when he arrived at the scene “there was havoc”.

Captain Chaka Marope, spokesperson for the police, said the police were at the scene to monitor the situation. He said the crowd dispersed peacefully afterwards.

“Currently we are not investigating any cases relating to the stampede, because we did not receive any complaints”, said Marope.

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