South Africa Joins Ghana In May 9th Remembrance Anniversary

Today marks a historic date when the jury at the new inquests into the Hillsborough stadium disaster delivered its verdict on how 96 people died at an FA Cup semi-final on 15 April 1989 while Ghana is on the verge of remembering the second biggest recorded stadium disaster of all times.

In the conclusion of the longest jury proceedings in British legal history the jury has determined that the 96 people who died at Hillsborough in 1989 were unlawfully killed due to gross negligence manslaughter.

The  Guardian reported the result as follows, “The verdict represents a vindication for the bereaved families who have fought for 27 years against South Yorkshire police claims that misbehaving supporters caused the disaster, as well as against the 1991 verdict of accidental death.

The jury decided that the behaviour of Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough did not contribute to the dangerous situation that developed outside the football ground, rejecting a claim by South Yorkshire police which the families and survivors of the disaster have relentlessly denounced as a cover-up.

Police planning errors “caused or contributed to’’ the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, the jury has concluded.

The families and survivors have always argued that the lethal crush at Hillsborough the stadium was due to failures by police and other organisations, and that claims of misbehaviour by supporters were aimed at deflecting blame.

The jury was returning answers to 14 questions about how the 96 people died at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.”

In Ghana the 15th anniversary of the second biggest recorded stadium disaster when 127 young football fans died needlessly on 9 May 2001 during a match between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium is around the corner.

An official inquiry in Ghana blamed police for over-reacting with reckless behaviour and indiscriminate firing of plastic bullets and tear gas. It also accused some officers of dishonesty and indefensible laxity

Reports claimed that medical staff had already left the stadium as the incident happened near the end of the match. Some gates were locked, preventing escape. Six police officers were charged with 127 counts of manslaughter afterwards, but the court ruled that the prosecution had failed to make a case.

The commission of inquiry recommended improvements to stadium security and first aid facilities, and that nationwide rapid response teams should be set up.

Since that tragic day on 9 May 2001 a group of people in Ghana led by the then Chairman of Asante Kotoko, Mr. Herbert Mensah, have religiously remembered the day with activities and events in both Accra and Ghana.

According to the organisers of the annual remembrance events 2016 will be different in the sense that a long standing desire by Mr. Mensah to give the event an international character will be realised.

With the help of City Press in South Africa two children of the victims of the 2001 Ellis Park stadium disaster of 2001 were identified and they will join Mr. Mensah and the May 9th Remembered organising team for 2016 remembrance activities in Kumasi.

Ntlakanipho Zulu who lost both his parents in the worst sporting tragedy in South African history is now 23 years old. According to him it was difficult to watch football matches, particularly the much-loved derbies between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

In an interview with City Press Zulu said: “My mother was a Chiefs fan. My dad was just there to support her. He was a Sundowns fan himself.”

His mother, Selina Maphanga, died at 25. His father, Nhlanhla Zulu, was 30. Young Ntlakanipho was left an orphan, and his half-brother and half-sister had also lost a father. He was raised by his grandparents in Duduza township on the East Rand.

Today he’s studying at Wits towards his honours in international relations and hopes to enter the diplomatic service, with his big dream being able to work at the United Nations in New York.

Mmakgomo Matshidiso Tshetlo, who is now 28 years old, saw her dad the last time during the first school holidays of the year in which he passed away that tragic day on 11 April 2001.

According to her she had a strange and perhaps predictive dream that  father had passed on from a shooting incident which was reported on in the City Press. She shared the horrifying details of the dream with her mother and aunt not knowing that in few weeks to follow the dream would become a reality.

In another message of remembrance from South Africa Ernst Middendorp, who was the head coach of Asante Kotoko at the time of the May 9th tragedy in 2001, said that he vividly remembers the horror of that day and that his heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims who have suffered for so many years as a result of their loss.

The 15th remembrance activities in Kumasi will include a massive street march, visits to the mosque and a church and a special May 9th football match between teams from Accra and Kumasi.