Police partly to blame for Durban football riot


Police were partly to blame for a violent pitch invasion at a South African soccer match, where fans were caught on camera beating up security officials and destroying broadcast equipment, the country’s soccer boss said.

Hundreds of angry fans leapt the perimeter fencing and went on a rampage at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, after Kaizer Chiefs lost 2-0 to Free State Stars in a knock-out cup match.

One security officer was hospitalised but later discharged. Television footage showed him being repeatedly kicked and beaten with plastic chairs by rioting fans.

Fan violence at soccer matches has a history in South Africa. Forty-three people died and 158 were hurt in a stampede during a match between Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in 2001.

A commission of inquiry called by then president Thabo Mbeki blamed inadequate training for stewards and lack of co-ordination between police and stadium management. It found no criminal or civil liability against the clubs, the league or stadium management.

Before Saturday’s match, police officials didn’t show up for a planning meeting on security, Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza told a televised news conference.
“You can’t implement what you don’t have plans for,” Khoza said.

He said an investigation by the League’s disciplinary structure was underway.

The causes of the riot will be investigated police spokesman Jay Naicker said.
“We will probe if the deployments of SAPS, security personnel and other security agencies were in place according to plan and whether those deployed to provide security reacted as they were expected to,” Naicker said.

One arrest was made and others would follow, he said.
“From the league’s perspective, while crimes or unlawful acts of public violence are being committed in their presence, the South African Police Service is required to be properly prepared and to immediately act,” Khoza said.

Minister of Sport, Tokozile Xasa, called for answers and swift action by the league.