Irvin Khoza explains PSL stance on Ellis Park disaster anniversary


Today, April 11, marks 18 years since one of the most devastating events at a sports stadium in South Africa, when 43 people were killed while attending a Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the Ellis Park Stadium in 2001.

The league has often been criticised for not staging remembrance events in honour of those who died and releasing mere statements to mark the anniversary of the incident.

But Khoza has since defended their handling thereof, highlighting that the League did explain what the course of action would be at a press conference following the disaster.

“In so far as the Ellis Park disaster matter, I think it was a press conference at Ellis Park where we said we must give the families chance to grieve, and that was our last kind of honouring of that event,” said Khoza.

“But if it’s 20thor 30thanniversary, there’s nothing stopping us [from doing something], but obviously the challenge is we’ve also got the Klerksdorp disaster, and we don’t want to prioritise one and oppose the other – they are all important events that happened.

“One of them has given rise to what is now called the SASRIA Act, which regulates how to stage events in the country.

“So, when it’s 20thor 30thanniversary, there’s nothing stopping us from doing that [an event] because we remember to remind the supporters it’s very important to arrive on time for matches. 

“But the Ellis Park disaster is an emotional one and we did not abandon it, because we did make a statement that we’ve done our part and we asked to allow the families to grieve, but a 20thand 30thanniversary is only fair for us to remember those fans,” he added.

“And remember, the families must agree that we can join them and make one celebration in terms of remembrance so that it makes it easier for everybody.

“The door was never closed, but we always recognize on our website in a small way at our clubs. But for the big 20thand 30thanniversaries, I think it’s only fair that we do something to remind ourselves and the supporters that things must improve so that we do not lose any more lives.”