Deaths mar Reed Dance

2009-09-14 00:00

THE annual Reed Dance held at King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Nyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma on Saturday was marred by the deaths, in two unrelated incidents, of two young women.

In one incident, a 14-year-old girl died during a stampede while the crowd jostled for promotional caps. In the crush, 11 others were injured.

A young woman was admitted to hospital in a critical condition and 10 others were seriously hurt.

Another died of natural causes. KwaZulu-Natal police spokeswoman Director Phindile Radebe said yesterday the woman complained of a severe headache and died on her way to a Durban hospital.

Her death is not related to the stampede incident, as was reported by the SABC yesterday.

Inquest dockets have been opened to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths. Radebe said that the names of the two who died have not yet been released.

More than 15 000 people attended this year’s Reed Dance.

The scramble for promotional caps took place just after midday. It is alleged that a promotional vehicle had stopped outside the palace as the women returned from laying down their reeds.

Pushing and shoving among the women began when the occupants of the vehicle apparently started to give away caps.

The Sunday Tribunereported yesterday that a vehicle was parked near a stack of logs which apparently tumbled as the maidens jostled each other for the caps. Others fell over the logs, breaking limbs in the process.

Premier Zweli Mkhize, who is a qualified doctor, had to assist in stabilising some of the girls. He was joined by Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube, Arts and Culture MEC Weziwe Thusi and department officials, as well as royal family members, the newspaper reported.

The incident occurred despite security measures being intensified. Security measures included the deployment of the national crime intervention unit, public order police and the crime intelligence unit.

Extra police personnel were deployed to combat criminal activities such as rape. Last year a 14-year-old girl from Durban was forced outside the dance area by a group of men who raped her.

Zulu royal family spokesman Prince Mbonisi Zulu said he does not not have the full details of the incident and cannot comment.

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