Beer garden shut down after stampede


SHUT DOWN: The last day of the Wits Beer Garden was shut down last night after a stampede at the entrance. PHOTO: Roxanne Joseph.

Students and visitors at the final beer garden of the Wits Orientation Week were unexpectedly evacuated from the event yesterday evening after a stampede at the entrance.

Members of the City of Johannesburg Emergency Management Service (EMS): Events were forced to intervene and advise Wits campus control to shut down the event after a stampede occurred outside the venue on the Library Lawns.

EMS safety officer Rendani Mukondeleli told Wits Vuvuzela the event was oversubscribed and became “risky” with 5000 more people in attendance than the 3000 approved by JMS.

“There was a push at the entrance and that push was affecting people inside and we then declared the event unsafe due to a number of risks,” said Mukondeleli. He said the stampede started after people waiting to enter realised the armbands needed to access the event were finished.

“That was when we switched off the music and closed down the bars because if you allow students to consume more beer they then refuse to go anywhere. So we then opened all gates to evacuate students,” added Mukondeleli.

Amogelang Mangayi, deputy secretary of the SRC (Students Representative Council) which organised the beer garden, said that the overcrowding led to frustration and resulted in the stampede.

“The lines were backed up so far past Umthombo [Building] and that created frustration with the crowd. During that frustration, a panic ensued and people started to push to get in and at that moment in time we made an executive decision and decided to close down all entrances and then start to calm the crowd down. That didn’t help and so people started pushing through the barriers and people got hurt”, said Mangayi.

Disappointment and anger

There were no serious injuries reported apart from three minor injuries, including “a bee sting, alcohol vomiting and a panic attack”, explained Lamese Abrahams, head of Wits SDLU (Student Development and Leadership Unit).

Visitors who had already paid for their tickets expressed their disappointment and frustration at the closure of the beer garden. Second year Biological Science Lamangwe Vezi said: “I feel like I wasted R10 because I got inside and then all of a sudden there was a stampede, no more music and then we’re all going out. They should have just cancelled it or found a bigger venue in the first place.”

Tebogo Theko who studies at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) said: “This wasn’t really nice hey. It was so ratchet. I got in here, bought a ticket and then all of a sudden it was packed. Last year was better. This year it was just chaotic. We should have gone to Braam.”

Precious Mahlangu, third year Geology, could only witness the stampede from outside as she could not get in. “I only managed to go in when they had already opened the gates for people to go out. It was really useless going in because the music was already off”.

In light of the incident Mangayi says security at tonight’s Freshers’ Bash will be much tighter and more “diligent”. “There will be separate entry points for  pre-sold tickets and for those who want to buy tickets.”


PYA-EFF spat leaves disabled students out in the cold

PYA members burning project W T-shirts. Picture provided.

PYA members burning Project W t-shirts. Picture provided.

DISABLED Wits students lost their place at O-week due to an ugly spat between the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Members of the Wits Disability Unit—an office dedicated to helping disabled students—lost their spot in the O-week clubs and societies tent on Wednesday when their table was allegedly taken over by Wits EFF.The Wits Disability Unit was left off to the side with their materials pinned haphazardly to a table manned by three of their members, two of whom were in wheelchairs.
“Now we have to put our posters here,” said a unit member pointing to posters glued to a table.

[pullquote align=”right”]”They will never register us, they are ANC. They lie and say that we didn’t submit at all”[/pullquote]

The unit had a spot in the tent but, unlike many other clubs and societies, their table was without amenities like a bulletin board.
Wits EFF Chair, Vuyani Pambo said SRC clubs and societies portfolio holder Sarah Mokwebo asked Campus Control to evict Wits EFF from the tent. Mokwebo told them the Wits EFF table belonged to the Wits Disability Unit. She attempted to lead the Disability Unit back to the table occupied by Wits EFF but the red-beret clad students refused to move. “We won’t concede the space. We have our freedom of expression,” Pambo said.
Pambo accused Mokwebo of using the disabled students for “cheap politics”.
“She’s trying to play cheap politics by using disabled people. She was riding them on their wheel chairs,” Pambo said.
Both Mokwebo and SRC secretary Michlene Mongae declined to comment to Wits Vuvuzela on the spat with Wits EFF. Wits EFF are not a recognised club and society at Wits.Pambo said this was due to a rivalry with the PYA—which includes the ANC Youth League—that dominates the SRC. “They say we are not a club,” said Pambo.

“They will never register us, they are ANC. They lie and say that we didn’t submit at all.”

Wits EFF was not the only one of the PYA’s political rivals to be made unwelcome in the clubs and societies tent. On Tuesday, Projected W was forcibly ejected from the tent by PYA members led by Mokwebo. Like Wits EFF, Project W is not a recognised club and society at Wits.In cellphone pictures sent to Wits Vuvuzela by Project W, PYA members can be seen setting Project W t-shirts alight and stamping them underfoot.

Project W SRC member Jamie Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that his organisation was “banned” last year because of its constitution. Mokwebo rejected the claim that Project W had been banned. “It never existed,” she said.
Sithembiso Mphunyane, the secretary of the Wits SA Students Congress, said Project W and Wits EFF should not complain because “the law took its course”.
“[EFF] are an excited newborn…however they failed [to] meet the requirements by virtue of them not applying on time. Therefore [they] are not eligible to do anything on campus, they are not in any position to talk to students,” Mphunyane said.
Mphunyane called Project W “excited clowns that are just excited and mushroomed out the conditions of excitement”.
Mphunyane said they removed Project W from the tent at the request of the PYA members of the SRC.
However, he denied the PYA had used “physical” means to remove Project W.


Wits Freshers speak their minds

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to new Witsies on campus and asked a few questions: Watch the video to hear their responses to the following questions:

  • Why did you chose Wits?
  • What are you looking forward to this year?
  • What do you think of the ‘friendly feud’ between Wits and UJ?