New Year stampede at South African bar kills 10: Police

Reports suggested stampede happened when revellers rushed to avoid a fight.

Last Updated: Jan 02, 2011, 09:41 AM IST

Johannesburg: Ten people died in a stampede at a crowded township bar during New Year festivities in South Africa, police said on Saturday, as reports suggested it happened when revellers rushed to avoid a fight.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the tragedy at Ipelegeng, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Johannesburg in the North West province.

SAFM public radio said the crush was caused by party goers moving towards the dance floor to get out of the way of a brawl which had broken out.

"When police were sent to the scene, they found that there was a stampede at the tavern and that 10 people had passed away," police spokeswoman Adele Myburgh said.

"The exact cause of the stampede at this stage will be determined by police investigation and we don`t give the particulars of the victims at this stage, because the families have not been informed and some have not been formally identified," she said.

Myburgh added that the large number of people present at the bar was one of the factors being examined by police.

"The owner was arrested in the afternoon and charged with voluntary manslaughter," she said. "He will see a judge on Monday. He is suspected of negligence."

Local officials had called for a full inquiry into whether the owner was negligent in allowing so many people in.

"Someone should be held accountable for the incident which robbed families and the community of valuable lives," said Desbo Mohono, an elected official in charge of housing.

"We are distraught and saddened by the deaths," he added.

Myburgh urged the "community to remain calm and not take the law into their own hands".

With tension mounting in the wake of the incident, according to the Sapa news agency, a meeting between police and local politicians and community leaders was due later in the day.

The incident marred a day of otherwise calm New Year celebrations in South Africa.

Police earlier said there had been no violent incidents in Cape Town and only one murder in Johannesburg, compared to the usual average daily rate of around 46 killings nationwide.

South Africa is one of the world`s most violent countries. Murder rates last year fell to the lowest level since apartheid, but deadly violence still bedevils the nation`s shantytowns.

Bureau Report