Mother Killed in University of Johannesburg Stampede

Aislinn Laing, Telegraph (London), January 10, 2012

The crush developed early on Tuesday after security guards at the South African university opened a small gate to admit applicants through the university clearing system.

As students and their parents pushed to get through the gate, some fell to the ground and were trampled while others were forced against the sharp metal fencing.

One woman died at the scene from head and chest injuries while three others were left in a critical condition. A further 17 people were treated for minor injuries.

Queues formed on Sunday and quickly stretched for a mile.

South Africa has an unemployment rate of 51 per cent among young people, and many see university as their only way to avoid joining the jobless.

The university received 85,000 applications for 11,000 first-year places. An additional 5,000 applications were then filed for approximately 500 overspill spaces.

Patricia Thulani, 18, from Pretoria, had stayed overnight and was close to the front of the crowd when the stampede happened.

“I fell over and some were trying to help me up but others just rushed over me. It was horrific,” she said.

“I was just praying—I really thought I was going to die. I kept thinking: ‘Why am I doing this?’ But I know why—we’re all here for the same reason.

We want good educations so we can get jobs.

“The police sent a van in through the crowd and I managed to get on top of the bonnet. If it wasn’t for that, I’m not sure I would still be here.”

Fiona Maila, 36, accompanying her daughter Thandiwe, said university authorities should have learned the lesson from a similar crush last year.

“We Africans always do things at the last minute, it’s part of our culture,” she said. “They really need to organise it better.”

Another woman, who did not want to be named for fear it would jeopardise the application she eventually managed to submit yesterday, was separated from her father in the crush.

“The security guards told us to form queues but people just refused to cooperate—they were climbing the fence and pushing at the main gate until it broke,” she said, her trousers caked in dust.

“We were told it was a first-come-first served basis so people were desperate. There are so few places that you worry you’re not going to make it.”

Her father, who had blood on his shirt, was just metres from the woman who was killed. “It was incredibly frightening,” he said. “People were piled on top of each other. We heard screaming and someone having what sounded like an asthma attack. I saw a woman fall down and later heard she had died.”

Fundiswa Hoyi, 20, said there appeared to be more parents than students.

“You would expect them to tell people off for pushing but they were the worst,” she said. “If the university had just divided people up into subjects, or had admissions on various campuses, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Dirk Hermann, deputy general secretary of the trade union Solidarity, said students were aware that their chances of getting a job were boosted from 50 per cent to 80 per cent with post-school education.

“The problem we have is that there are too many students with university degrees and not enough with technical qualifications in key areas such as nursing and artisanal work because our higher education colleges are dysfunctional,” he said.

Blade Nzimande, the Higher Education Minister, has announced an overhaul of higher education colleges. He added that he was considering banning walk-in university registrations entirely.

Police had restored calm among the 800 students remained in front of the locked gates hoping to register inside. Blankets, umbrellas, documents and abandoned shoes lay scattered around them.


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  • Anonymous

    can’t be much longer till there’s a civil war, 50%+ black unemployment, whites of course will be the scapegoats for everything wrong

    • … sounds like the Jew’s problem in 1930’s.  It didn’t end well.

    • Anonymous

      The Black unemployment rate here is 15.8%. As long as we can afford to give them food stamps, welfare, and unemployment, we don’t have to worry about civil war here.

      • Anonymous

        Official unemployment stats only count those currently receiving unemployment benefits. Once the benefits run out they are not counted.

  • Anonymous

    At least they are fighting to get into school. Here in America, Blacks fight to get into Wall-Mart and to buy Air Jordan.

    Did it ever occur to the school to have students apply online and then call in perspective candidates for screening? Even the most backward countries have internet.

    • Anonymous

      Or even mail in applications and notified by letter for an appointment.  Even in Africa they have PO Boxes.

      • Anonymous

        You are right. Unlike a lot of American Blacks, most South African Blacks can read and write, so snail mail would work.

    • Anonymous

      Your right. Unlike a lot of American Blacks, most African Blacks can read and write, so snail mail would work as well.

  • Golden, just golden! 

    ““We Africans always do things at the last minute, it’s part of our culture,” she said. “They really need to organise it better.””

    • Azorean American

      I love how naively honest this African is. We Africans always wait until the last minute. Wow nothing like admitting your character defects and still want a handout. My culture is to not be forced to integrate with yours. How does that sound Bantu woman? Well in this case what she is saying is actually blaming her own black run police department. There are only about 12,000 white officers left in the entire country. So that leaves black cops to blame, like it or not.

  • Anonymous

    There are many criteria used to determine who should and should not go to college. One of those criteria is the high-school grades of the applicant. Another, I think, should be whether or not you trample someone to death during the registration process.

  • “South Africa has an unemployment rate of 51 per cent among young people, and many see university as their only way to avoid joining the jobless.”

    I have bad news for the “enlightened” ones: More college graduates in a dismal job market will simply result in a more fierce competition for better jobs and therefore each college degree being worth less than before. Any occupation that once employed high school graduates will now require a college degree, so instead of improving career prospects, this process leads to an inflation of college degrees.

    This trend is underway at full speed in the United States and more and more other Western countries. As most of the industrial base that formerly allowed high school graduates to earn a living wage in manufacturing has been shipped overseas in the last decades, we now see college graduates of dubious schools and degrees flipping burgers for starvation wages in the new, touted “service economy”. The laws of labor demand and supply strike mercilessly.

  • Anonymous

    It sounds harsh, I know, but basically we have a population of people who never even had a written language until a century ago making a big show about calling themselves ‘university students’.
    There was a time, not so long ago, when universities were exclusively the preserve of scholars – an ancient tradition derived from the monks of medieval Europe – and were not quasi vocational colleges.

  • The woman who as killed was a 40-something nursing sister who was working in London at the time, and flew back to assist her son in registering to study medicine.

    Does the above strike you as odd? It should:

    1. The dead woman qualified herself as a nursing sister during (shock! horror!) the apartheid era, during which the left will tell you blacks were “denied” all opportunities in South Africa (Nelson Mandela became a lawyer at a South African university too….)

    2. The University of Johannesburg happens not to have a medical facility.  At all. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a medical professional like the dead woman would know this, especially a presumably sophisticated person who was working in London. Surely she, of all people, should also have known that there is intense competition for medical school, so what on earth was the “thinking” behind her son and her arriving months after the admissions had closed, at a university which has no medical faculty at all, to study medicine.

    The only possible explanation I can think of is that he wanted to take a course full of mumbo-jumbo subjects (“Black studies 101”) and was intending to become a witch doctor.

  • Wow, they look just like American “students”. Check out the student in purple, probably going to be a film major, as puts together a short clip for World Star Hip Hop, he looks as empty headed as a bucket.

  • Anonymous

    SA sounds like the USA.

  • The sad fact is that those degrees are worthless.  A friend of mine is a secretary to a dean at that “university”.  She tells me that students are so ill-prepared on entry that lecturers have to teach them basic literacy before they can address actual course content, and in fact the course content is never covered.  But they may not fail the poor dears, so they graduate, having learned nothing relevant to the degrees.