1 Killed in Stampede at South African University

A "frenzy" erupted outside the gates of the University of Johannesburg as thousands sought applications for 800 slots.

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Stampede outside the gates of the University of Johannesburg (Associated Press)

MSNBC is reporting that one person was killed and nearly 20 injured on Tuesday as they rushed to register at the University of Johannesburg. The tragedy highlights the demand for higher education among the poor in the continent's largest economy.

Thousands of potential applicants had lined up for days for about 800 slots at the university, most of them from poor families but who had scored high enough on national exams to be considered for higher education.

The application process has been open for weeks but many poor students do not have Internet access and could not apply online. The crush was caused by students pushing their way into offices on the final day for applications, university officials said…

University of Johannesburg 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.m. local time, about 30 minutes before the gate was scheduled to open, The Associated Press reported.

Emergency services official Nana Radebe said nearly 20 people had been injured, at least three of them seriously ...

Unemployment among youth is South Africa is about 50 percent and many see a university degree as the only way to escape poverty.

Under apartheid, all but a trickle of the country's black majority was shut out of higher education. When white minority rule ended nearly 18 years ago, the gates to universities were opened to all.

We hope that this tragedy forces the ministry to hasten its pace to adapt to life after apartheid, including opening enough schools so that no one will have to die trying to attend a university.

Read more at MSNBC.

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