Stadium safety is fans’ duty too
SA National Civic Organisation spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu made the usual comments, urging the authorities to improve security at major occasions.
Police stand at the scene of the bodies of two people who died during a stampede at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on 29 July, 2017. The stampede began when Kaiser Chiefs scored their first goal and people outside attempted to rush into the stadium. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia
Amid the predictable outpourings of grief and anger following Saturday’s stampede at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, which claimed two lives and left about 20 people injured, there was also a voice speaking common sense, which we hope won’t be lost amid the emotion.
SA National Civic Organisation spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu made the usual comments, urging the authorities to improve security at major occasions, such as Saturday’s Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates derby clash, but he also made the telling point that safety and security is not just the responsibility of government or private organisations.
His argument was that every fan should be “encouraged to take responsibility for their safety and that of others”.
That is something we seldom hear when it comes to tragedies of this nature, because we all seem to sit back and accept that it is due to some failure by those in charge, or some capricious twist of fate, that people have died.
The reality is that ordinary people – ordinary football fans – cause these calamities. And, if we continue to ignore that reality and blame everything else, then we will have more deaths in the future.
It is definitely important for the police and those who run the stadiums and organise matches to improve security protocols and reaction plans.
But we believe it is also incumbent on fans to pay attention to what is happening around them and to realise the consequences of actions like pushing to get through turnstiles faster.
It is also the duty of the clubs to communicate to their fans the dangers of acting like this.
That should be done through the regular channels of contact clubs have with their fans, as well as by stationing marshals at stadiums with pamphlets to educate the crowds. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.