Second Reading Debate On
Safety At Sports And Recreational Events Bill

 

Address by Bonginkosi Dhlamini MP
 

National Assembly: 18 February 2010

 

Honourable Speaker,

 

 

With only a hundred and thirteen days to go to Africa's first World Cup, it is necessary that we debate and reflect on the safety and well-being of all people attending important sporting and entertainment events on South African soil.

 

South Africa has become one of the world's most popular destinations for the hosting of major international sporting events, but the Ellis Park Soccer Disaster in 2001 highlighted several shortcomings with regard to the current measures we have in place at our stadiums, countrywide.

 

On the 11 April 2001, following a soccer game between soccer arch-rivals Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, a stampede led to 43 people losing their lives at an overcrowded Ellis Park Stadium.  The disaster shocked our nation and led to the establishment of the Commission of Enquiry, chaired by Justice Ngoepe, which was set-up to establish what happened on that fateful night and to identify mechanisms to prevent such tragedies in future.

 

Some of the reasons cited for the tragedy were: corrupt security officials; dereliction of duty by stadium personnel; a poor forecast of attendance and a lack of proper planning to deal with a capacity crowd. Role players had also failed to identify areas of responsibility, resulting in security functions either not being carried out properly, or not being carried out at all. There was also undisputed evidence which showed that security personnel accepted bribes to allow spectators without tickets into the stadium.  Some points were unmanned, enabling people to walk through without tickets.

 

Needless to say, we cannot allow any of these unacceptable, unscrupulous actions cited above to disrupt our successful hosting of 2010 Soccer World Cup and neither can we allow such a disaster to ever again occur at any other event hosted within South Africa's borders.

 

Therefore, the proposed Bill before us today, which seeks to implement minimum safety and security standards at sports and recreational events, is the way forward and the IFP welcomes the proposals made in the Bill.

 

I am especially pleased that the planning, management and enforcement of safety and security at sports and recreational events held at stadiums and other venues, including events in the form of a race or a tour or procession along a route, will as from the implementation of this Bill, be managed by professional people with experience in the field of safety and security.

 

But let me signal a warning today; some sections of this Bill are ambitions to say the least. The Bill, which seeks to promote the physical safety and security of individuals attending sports and recreational events and their property, will fail in its proposed mandate unless we address the serious crisis in the private security sector - which is not properly regulated and which is beset by incompetence and corruption.

 

In line with our constitution, it is the government's obligation to keep its citizens safe, but just as important is the safety of the visitors to our country, especially during the 2010 World Cup. Whether we are able to protect our international and local sporting spectators will determine whether our country will remain a desirable destination for the hosting of major international events in future.

 

Honourable Speaker, it is therefore imperative that we ensure that this Bill does not remain a mere piece of paper, but that we follow through on all its intended aims and objectives.

 

The IFP welcomes and supports this Bill.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact: Bonginkosi Dhlamini MP, 083 254 8576.