Bingu National Stadium manager Eric Ning’ang’a has cautiously taken responsibility for the disaster on Thursday which left eight people dead and over 60 injured due to a stampede.
Ning’ang’a conceded the stampede was due to late opening of the gates at the stadium.
“I am taking responsibility because I am the manager of the stadium. However, I was not part of the main organising committee which made the decision to open the gates at 10am. If I were at the meeting, I would advised the committee that gates be opened at six O’clock in the morning,” said Ning’ang’a.
He however contradicted President Peter Mutharka’s assertion that the stampede was triggered by police failure to employ good tactics in crowd control.
“The police did a very good job, they were professional, they controlled the crowd very well, the only problem was the late opening of the gates.
“During Kamuzu era, during such celebrations, gates at Kamuzu Stadium were opened as early as 2am,” he said.
Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he would only comment after a police report on the issue is out.
Human rights activist Robert Mkwezalamba called for disciplinary action against officials who were neglect in their duties causing the deaths.
He said civil rights groups could help bereaved families sue the government for compensation as the state failed to protect its people.
Mkwezalamva also accused the government of politicising the national event, saying it was more of Democratic Progressive Party than a national event.
Government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said the government has assisted the bereaved family in cash and kind.
He however could not be drawn to comment on allegations that each bereaved family has received K1 million for coffin, food and transport.
Spokesperson for Kamuzu Central Hospital Chiyanjano Kazombo said out of the 68 injured people who came to the hospital, 22 were admitted and one remains in critical condition in intensive care unit.
Some families were however unhappy that they learnt the death of the chldren at the stadium through social media.
Nyamwali Mphedzi from Mtsiriza in Lilongwe said she learnt of the death of her last born Aaron Imvani through a face book picture of a lifeless body lying on the ground near the stadium.
“We had to go rushing to Kamuzu Central Hospital. What a painful way to learn about the death of your child,” she said whilst wiping out tears.
The government has been severely criticised for going ahead with sporting activities despite the tragedy, failure to declare days of mourning and failure to lower the national flag in the honour of the dead as they died whilst attempting to celebrate the independence of the country.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :