Mr. Herbert Mensah, former Chairman of Kumasi Asante Kotoko and current President of the Ghana Rugby Football Union, sent a message of condolences to all the family members of the victims of the 11 April 2001 Ellispark Stadium Disaster from his home in Buckinghamshire.
In the message of condolences, Mr. Mensah said that a group of people in Ghana have been commemorating the May 9th disaster in Ghana for the past fourteen years and have great empathy for all those whose lives were dramatically changed in a matter of moments due to an event that was never supposed to have taken place.
The months of April and May are known in history as the months in which a series of fatal stadium disasters caused hardship and pain to hundreds.
On 15 April 1989, the death toll reached 96 in the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster in Sheffield, England when police opened one of the main gates which resulted in a huge number of fans entering. The sudden surge crushed many Liverpool fans against the riot fencing.
The Ellispark Stadium Disaster saw another 43 people lose their lives on 11 April 2001 when spectators poured into the Ellis Park Stadium for a match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
Not long after the Ellispark tragedy yet another 127 young football fans died needlessly at the Accra Sports Stadium during a match between arch enemies Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak. Mr. Mensah was Chairman of Koto at the time and personally carried body after body from the exit tunnel in an attempt to help save lives.
Other stadium disasters in April and May include the Heysel Stadium Disaster on 29 May 1985 when Hooliganism was the trigger for this tragedy that robbed 39 people of their lives, the Bradford City Fire Disaster on 11 May 1985 at the Valley Parade Stadium when a fire broke out during a match between the home team (Bradford City), and Lincoln City witha resultant fatality count of 56 and the National Stadium Disaster on 24 May 1964 where 318 deaths were recorded in Lima, Peru.
According to Mr. Mensah they have made attempts in the past to join hands with the commemoration events in both South Africa and England to organise an exchange programme where some family members can experience and share in the events in different countries on an alternating basis.
“We are full of hope that we will be able to bring some family members from South Africa to Ghana to share in our 15th anniversary of the second biggest recorded stadium disaster in history. We are highly indebted to City Press for helping with the identification of surviving family members,” Mr. Mensah said.