Violent weekend leaves 77 dead in South Africa Curfew imposed following massacre

January 14, 1991|By Jerelyn Eddings | Jerelyn Eddings,Johannesburg Bureau of The Sun

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- At least 40 people were killed yesterday when fighting broke out among spectators at a soccer match in the town of Orkney, about 80 miles southwest of Johannesburg, police reported.

An estimated 20,000 fans were in the stadium when the brawl broke out, apparently sparked by a referee's ruling.

Police said many of the dead had been crushed against a fence and trampled as spectators tried to flee.

It was the second weekend incident in which dozens of South Africans were killed.

Thirty-seven were massacred at a funeral vigil Saturday in the black township of Sebokeng, 40 miles south of Johannesburg.

Police said gunmen there opened fire on about 300 mourners at an all-night vigil for Christoffel Nangelembe, an African National Congress activist who had been killed a week earlier.

Yesterday's violence took place at a soccer match between two of the country's top teams, the Kaiser Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates, both of which have large followings in the black township of Soweto.

"I understand there was unhappiness about some or other decision taken during the match," police Col. John Mostert told the South African Press Association.

"Immediately after that," he said, "the whole incident started."

Colonel Mostert said that police counted 40 dead, including two children.

He added that the death toll was likely to rise because some of the 50 injured spectators were in "very serious condition."

He said fighting broke out among hundreds of spectators, some of whom wielded knives and broken bottles.

The soccer incident took place as police announced the arrest of 10 people in the massacre at Sebokeng, where a dawn-to-dusk curfew was imposed in an attempt to restore calm.

ANC leader Nelson Mandela, his wife, Winnie, and other prominent ANC officials visited victims of the shooting and met with ANC officials in Sebokeng.

The weekend's violence is among the worst in recent years in South Africa, where thousands have died in factional fighting in black townships.

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