Govt calls for probe into UJ stampede

2012-01-11 08:15
The scene at the University of Johannesburg after a stampede involving prospective students, where a woman died. (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

The scene at the University of Johannesburg after a stampede involving prospective students, where a woman died. (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - The government has called for a "full investigation" into the death of a woman during a stampede at the University of Johannesburg.

"This is an unfortunate incident," government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Tuesday night.

"The improvements in matric pass rates...should be cause for celebration, not tragedy... This is an unfortunate incident which we hope will be fully investigated."

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) said on Tuesday that it would investigate the stampede, in which 22 people were injured, two of them critically.

Manyi sent his condolences to the affected families.

Victim a 'dedicated mom'

The Times newspaper on Wednesday identified the woman who was killed when crowds forced their way onto the campus as Gloria Sekwena, 47, the mother of prospective student Kgositsile Sekwena.

She was described as a loving and dedicated mother who had high hopes for her eldest son.

She was a nurse who had travelled from London to queue with thousands of other parents and young people, hoping to submit a late application for her son to study medicine.

Sekwena’s family described her as “jovial”.

A traumatised Kgositsile had to be sedated by the hospital’s medical staff and was in tears after the incident. His mother had died in his arms.

He told family members how he and his mother had been in the crowd when someone tried to get over the fence to get into the university grounds. He fell to the side and people pushed over his mother, stepping on her. He tried to find her and when he did, she was unconscious. 

Relatives recalled how Sekwena had told others not to come along that day as people could get hurt.    

Walk-in applications

Manyi said the government had noted the possibility, as expressed by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, of walk-in applications or registrations being outlawed.

After the incident, Nzimande told journalists that crowds descending on universities for late applications was a nationwide problem every year, but that UJ seemed to attract a lot more people.

Beeld
reported on Wednesday that the Democratic Alliance had criticised Nzimande, accusing him of saying last year that the long queues outside UJ were a "wonderful problem".

Nzimande said on Tuesday that the department was hoping to have centralised registration in place by next year and would provide more information at schools on the applications process.

"Government calls on candidates to take the necessary, timeous steps to secure entry to tertiary institutions and calls on such institutions to take measures to make these processes as smooth and efficient as possible for candidates," said Manyi.

Read more on:    uj  |  blade nzimande  |  johannesburg  |  education

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