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Rugby to honour victims of Ellis Park stampede

PAINFUL: Roy and Annette Nation flank Lindi Gabaza whose son Mduduzi Thomo was one of the 43 victims of the Ellis Park disaster. The Nation family lost their 11-year-old son Rosswin that Wednesday night in April 2001 Photo: Veli Nhlapo
PAINFUL: Roy and Annette Nation flank Lindi Gabaza whose son Mduduzi Thomo was one of the 43 victims of the Ellis Park disaster. The Nation family lost their 11-year-old son Rosswin that Wednesday night in April 2001 Photo: Veli Nhlapo

Rugby will honour the victims of the Ellis Park stampede on Saturday while there is still no undertaking from the Premier Soccer League about observing a moment of silence in remembrance of the disaster.

Ellis Park management yesterday promised to observe a moment of silence for the 43 victims before the Super Rugby game between the Lions and Stormers on Saturday. Annette and Roy Nation, whose son 11-year-old Rosswin died during the stampede at the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates game 15 years ago, will be among the spectators when the Lions take on the Stormers.

The family has been invited to the game by Ellis Park management. Yesterday, the PSL issued another terse statement in which it said it "continued to mourn the tragic loss of life that night" but no plans to observe a moment of silence in any game were announced, although there are four midweek games today and tomorrow. Annette's proposals of a memorial have been ignored by both the PSL and Safa.

The Ellis Park tragedy also holds sad memories for Soweto resident Lindi Gabaza, who joined the Nations to lay a wreath at the Joburg venue yesterday. Her son Mduduzi Thomo, a Pirates fan, was among the victims on that fateful Wednesday night. To add to her tragedy, she also had to bury her eldest son Mandla Thomo, on April 11 last year.

Gabaza said she had been planning to visit her son's grave until she read Friday's Sowetan in which Annette undertook to go to the stadium to lay a wreath in memory of her son and invited other victims' relatives.

"I was going to pray at home and visit Mduduzi's grave at Croesus Cemetery in Newclare. It's an important date in our lives," Gabaza, of Jabulani, said.

She said she would like Ellis Park disaster to be commemorated properly next year.

"Just a prayer service, we want nothing more," Gabaza pleaded.

Annette arrived at the stadium yesterday with her husband Roy and other relatives.

They had no trouble getting access to the stadium and she later told Sowetan she was happy that even though not many families of the victims' had joined her yesterday, Gabaza had actually responded to her plea.

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