Inquiry into FNB stampede derailed

Prince Chauke died in the stampede. Image: SUPPLIED
Prince Chauke died in the stampede. Image: SUPPLIED

The much-anticipated probe into the Soweto derby stampede that was to start on Tuesday has been thrown into disarray as Soccer City management argues the ministerial committee is unlawful and should be nullified.

Sowetan has seen court papers filed by Stadium Management SA (SMSA) in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in December, wherein they oppose the inquiry, set up by former sport minister Thulas Nxesi following the death of two spectators - Prince Chauke and Johannes Nkosi - during last year's Carling Cup match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at Soccer City.

The ministerial committee was to start with proceedings next week to look into the incident and make recommendations on safety standards around big matches in South Africa, such as Saturday's looming monstrous fixture between the Soweto giants at the same venue.

SMSA chief executive Jacques Grobbelaar was set to be one of the key witnesses at the hearing, but he told Sowetan yesterday that "it is not happening on the 6th [referring to March 6]".

The appointment of the committee, chaired by a judge, is nothing other than the unlawful setting up of a judicial commission, usurping the president's prerogatives and contrary to the commissions act

Instead, SMSA has told the sports ministry to meet them in court on March 27 to oppose their application to halt the hearings.

Grobbelaar dispatched a sworn affidavit to the court in which he continues to assert the death of two spectators - in last July's clash - was caused by "140 un-ticketed persons gaining unlawful entry" into the stadium.

He argues against giving evidence at the ministerial committee because a witness could "incriminate themselves" as they are not indemnified from a current police investigation into the same incident. "This will infringe a witness's constitutional rights entitling the witness to refuse to give evidence."

SMSA wants the high court to declare the committee unlawful as it claims it has powers that can only be bestowed to a judicial commission appointed by a president.

"The appointment of the committee, chaired by a judge, is nothing other than the unlawful setting up of a judicial commission, usurping the president's prerogatives and contrary to the commissions act."

He alleges the ministry ignored SMSA's requests to be furnished with information related to the committee and its terms of reference.

"It's clear from the reported attitude of the sports ministry the respondent has no intention of complying with the terms of the applicant's written demands, chooses to disregard the facts set out in those demands and is set upon proceeding with the unlawful enquiry."

When contacted yesterday, Grobbelaar pleaded ignorance on the affidavit. "Speak to the [sports] ministry," he said.

The ministry's spokesman Mickey Modisane said he would consult with the department before commenting.

The committee is to be chaired by retired judge Justice Rajarithinam Pillay, according to the notice published in the government gazette on October 20.

Nxesi appointed two committees. The one looking into alleged maladministration at the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), has been in progress and should resume on Monday.

Following the July 29 stampede, Chiefs and Pirates owners, Kaizer Motaung and Irvin Khoza, appeared in a joint press conference where they promised a probe into the matter would be concluded within two weeks. The probe did not take place as the PSL announced the ministerial hearing would be given preference.

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