Tshwane plays down stampede

2004-04-28 12:14
Pretoria - A stampede in which several people were injured during the democracy celebration concert at the Union Buildings on Tuesday was described as "nothing serious" by the Tshwane metro council on Wednesday.

"We have checked with all the hospitals and found that nobody was admitted," said spokesperson William Baloyi, noting that many of the injuries comprised only of bruises and scrapes.

Pretoria Academic Hospital said on Tuesday evening it had treated 15 patients for minor injuries - the most serious being broken ankles and arms.

An estimated 200 revellers were caught in a "human wave" when 20 000 people swept onto the southern lawns of the Union Buildings at the start of the a music concert to mark the country's 10th anniversary of democracy, shortly after the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki.

The problem is alleged to have been caused when crowds in Church Street broke through the fence onto the lawns and jostled for space near the front of the stage with those already there.

An estimated 20 000 people flooded into the grounds in 45 minutes.

Human wave

Beeld photographer Felix Dlangamandla said he still gets "goose bumps" when thinking of his narrow escape.

"I was in the crowd shooting pictures when all of a sudden there was a feeling of apprehension and anxiety in the crowd. Seconds later a wave of people surged towards the stage - I was suddenly sweating and found it difficult to breath," he said.

Dlangamandla said there was much shouting and screaming.

"I managed to get hold of a marshal who dragged me to safety," he said.

He was pleased to see that children were the first to be saved by marshals who dragged many from the crowd and flung them to waiting hands on the other side of a fence, Dlangamandla said.

Candace Freeman, who was enjoying the festivities near the back of the lawns with friends, said she heard there had been a stampede but from her position it had not seemed like a "major thing".

Tshwane Emergency Services confirmed it had assisted the injured but was restricted by the department of foreign affairs from speaking to the media on the matter.

The department was not immediately available for comment.

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