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Mother dies in university stampede

A stampede by prospective students outside a South African university left one woman dead and two others seriously injured.

Thousands of would-be undergraduates and their parents began gathering at the University of Johannesburg campus to seek admission.

Space was limited, symptom of a larger crisis in South African education and perhaps contributing to a sense of desperation that led to the stampede. Many would-be applicants had only learned they were eligible for further study after getting results from high school final exams last week.

University vice chancellor Ihron Rensburg said a mother who had accompanied her son to the campus was killed in the melee, which started about 7:30, a half hour before the gate was scheduled to open. Two others were seriously injured and seven slightly hurt, he said. It was not immediately clear whether the injured were prospective students, parents or both.

Desmond Mlangu, a prospective student, said he witnessed a traumatising scene, with women screaming and people continuing to push. He said those at the back of the crowd did not seem to realise what was happening at the gate.

Tendai Nembidzane, a final-year business student who is head of the university's student council, said he saw the stampede and afterwards saw the dead woman's son crouching near her body.

Hours later, shoes and other debris were strewn at the site. People remained queuing, still seeking to study. Classes begin in February.

Those at the university this week were seeking late admission. Regular admission closed in June. Mr Rensburg said 11,000 people were expected to use the late window to apply for as few as 800 remaining places.

Across South Africa, universities are under strain as prospective students seek a better life as professionals in a nation beset by high unemployment. The government hopes to expand its universities over the next decade.


From Belfast Telegraph