Two arrested after football turmoil
Security guard fighting for life following vicious attack by rioting fans at Moses Mabhida Stadium
Two people have been arrested in connection with the violence that flared up at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban after Kaizer Chiefs lost to Free State Stars on Saturday night. A security guard is fighting for her life in hospital after being set upon by a group of rioting fans in the stadium.
Much of the attack was captured by spectators and posted on social media.
The security guard was repeatedly punched and kicked.
After she fell to the ground‚ a man in khaki trousers hit her with part of the speaker system‚ which had been destroyed as rioters ran onto the field and broke everything in sight.
About R5-million in damage was done to expensive audiovisual equipment‚ including an SABC camera set on fire.
There was also damage to cars outside‚ the plastic seating and advertising hoardings after fans‚ angered by Chiefs’ failure to make the final‚ invaded the pitch as the final whistle went.
There were also other injuries‚ including a young ball-boy traumatised by the wanton destruction around him.
Police and security guards failed to hold back the invaders‚ raising the question again about the effectiveness of security at high-profile matches.
Police spokesman Captain Nqobile Gwala said two suspects, aged 27 and 33, had been arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property. They are expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court today.
Gwala said angry fans had stormed the field‚ hurled objects onto the pitch and even started a fire at the stadium.
“Police were forced to use stun grenades to disperse the unruly crowds‚” Gwala said.
A small band of Free State Stars supporters were also attacked, but managed to get to safety after their club’s general manager‚ Rantsi Mokoena‚ went to their rescue.
At least two hours after the final whistle, the pitch was littered with debris as the two teams delayed their departure until the majority of spectators had been cleared from the precinct.
PSL spokesman Lux September said: “Hooliganism and thuggery [like] this have no place in football and acts of violence perpetrated by individuals as [seen] last night cannot be tolerated.
“The league will work closely with law enforcement to ensure that those responsible for this hooliganism are subjected to judicial processes.”
Clubs are forced by the Premier Soccer League to spend heavily on match security, but this system rarely proves effective when put to the test.
The police drove a single riot vehicle onto the side of the pitch‚ behind Chiefs’ bench‚ towards the end of the game when people in the crowd began to throw missiles at Amakhosi’s embattled coach, Steve Komphela, who quit at a media conference after the match.
When the final whistle went, everyone on the field – including police – fled down the tunnel‚ giving the pitch invaders free rein to trash everything they could reach, including the large audio speakers and television cameras.
After similar violence at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria more than a year ago – when Orlando Pirates fans ran amok and a rival supporter was beaten – no perpetrators were punished.
Dwindling crowds have long been a problem for the PSL and Saturday’s violence will be a further deterrent.
The DA has strongly condemned the violence on Saturday.
The DA’s Tsepo Mhlongo said stadium management‚ football marshals‚ the PSL leadership and the police must provide answers on why the security measures they had in place failed.
“I will write to sports portfolio committee chairwoman Beauty Dlulane‚ requesting that she summon the Premier Soccer League leadership to account for the growing culture of violence that seems to have taken root in the premier soccer division‚” Mhlongo said.
He said parliament must fulfil its role and hold sporting bodies‚ such as the PSL‚ accountable to ensure that South African stadiums did not become death traps for sports fans.