Crowd crush at ANC rally

2009-03-01 00:00

A stampede broke out at a packed ANC rally in Chatsworth resulting in 63 injured people being rushed to R.K. Khan Hospital in three ambulances and a hospital bus.

By late yesterday afternoon, Health Department spokesman Chris Maxon said of the 63, 59 had been sent home, while one patient had to be admitted and treated for epilepsy. Three others are awaiting X-rays.

The stampede happened when the stands in the 22 400-seater Chatsworth Stadium were packed beyond capacity. The ANC had drawn a record crowd of over 40 000 supporters, with an overflow in the cricket oval next door watching proceedings on big screens.

By about 12.15 pm, with the stands full, ANC KZN secretary-general Senzo Mchunu asked marshals to open the barricade so part of the crowd could move to the field. This resulted in a storming of the barricades, with mainly women and children being crushed in the process.

Using the microphone, Mchunu summoned the police stationed around the stadium to come and assist. Marshalls and police formed a human chain to control the crowd. By this stage the area in front of the broken barricade looked like a scene from a disaster movie. People lay on the ground crying and moaning, some seemed to have fainted or lay prostrate with shock. Shoes, cardigans and broken umbrellas lay scattered around.

Paramedics and a doctor, wearing a Zuma T-shirt, moved from one injured person to the next. The doctor refused to be named, saying he was part of a team. Arts and Culture MEC, Wezizwe Thusi, was also seen assisting the injured.

By 12.45 pm, Mchunu asked marshalls to close the gates to the stadium as it was full. He praised the crowd for settling down quickly. “You are excellent comrades, you have shown that the ANC is disciplined,” he said.

Chatsworth ANC councillor Visvin Reddy, one of the rally organisers, explained the large crowd, saying this was not a Chatsworth rally, but an eThekwini regional rally. He said people were bused in. There were about 50 buses parked outside the stadium.

The rally caused major traffic congestion in Chatsworth. SAPS spokesman Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said traffic officers monitored the congestion, though he could not say how long it took to clear the roads.


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