Dozens of people have been injured and at least eight people killed after a stampede that occurred after police fired teargas at civilians as they tried to enter the Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in the capital Lilongwe on Thursday 6 July during the celebrations of Malawi 53 independence brom British colonial rule.
After the national service of worship at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in the morning Malawians were expected to be treated to a match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers football clubs later in the afternoon at BNS.
But police fired teargas at civilians after they failed to contain hundreds that tried to enter the stadium.
Hundreds of people rushed at one of the stadium gates, causing some to fall and be trampled underfoot. As well as the eight deaths, scores of people were seriously injured.
Activists and rights groups immediately condemned the act, saying the stampede could have been avoided.
Rights activist, Billy Mayaya, demanded for the firing of the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) Lexten Kachama for negligence.
He said: “The President must immediately fire the IG [Inspector General] to pave way for investigations. This is most unfortunate.”
Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) executive director, Gift Trapence, called for the “cancellation” of the Independence Day celebrations.
“You can’t continue celebrating when eight lives are lost. The celebrations should be postponed or cancelled altogether,” said Trapence.
According to Trapence, the stampede would have been avoided with calculative and effective planning.
“The Police should have planned well knowing that there would be people of different age groups coming to the stadium. It reflects very badly on us as a country that we still have a Police service that is not up to its task,” said Trapence.
He then called for government and the people of Malawi to hold “a national day of mourning” for the fallen lives.
Malawi is celebrating fifty-three years of independence from the Britons but—already—the commemoration has been marred with a lot of tumult with members of the opposition and activists concerned with why government was not open enough to reveal the budget for the celebrations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :