Stampede in Bloemfontein: 69 injured

2011-10-07 11:10

Pandemonium broke out when desperate jobseekers stormed the gates of Transnet offices in Bloemfontein, injuring 69 people this morning.

Jabu Mbalula, spokesperson for the Free State department of health, said 69 people were treated at Pelonomi Hospital.

“One person is critical injured and four were serious.”

Mbalula said the other people were treated for minor injuries.

Hundreds of people queued in front of the offices on the corner of Gruis and Andries Pretorius streets in Navalsig.

They were responding to an advertisement in the Media 24 community newspaper Express. The advertisement invited interested people for “an assessment for placement on the database for consideration, should the process worker vacancies arise”.

Ishmael Mponya said there were thousands of people already queuing when he arrived 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 jobseekers got upset because people were cutting in front of the line and accused the security guards of being biased.

“Next thing, chaos broke out and people were hurt.”

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

“My friends and I slept in the car 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.”

Swartland 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 this morning “there was havoc”. He said there were thousands of people.

Transnet spokesperson Mpho Makanyane said 40 people were injured. This was contrary to radio reports that people had died.

Police spokesperson Rulene Kühn confirmed this.

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