By Alfred Mthandizi
As the nation mourns, July 6, 2017, will be remembered in Malawian history for the tragic loss 9 innocent souls following the negligence of overzealous police officers who threw teargas at ordinary people who were scrambling to enter the gates of Bingu National Stadium resulting in a heavy stampede.
Minister of Labour Sports and Manpower Development, Henry Mussa, said the government through Department of Disaster Management, will do everything possible to assist the bereaved families. Mussa said the government will investigate to find out what caused the accident and the loss 9 lives. Mussa said the government is deeply touched by the incident.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika’s, Press Officer, Mgeme Kalirani, said the President is deeply shocked with the incident. Leader of opposition Dr. Lazarus Chakwera said he too was shocked to learn about the stampede which resulted in the killing of 9 innocent souls.
Chakwera said these are the people who could help in the development of this country. By 10:00 AM all roads leading to Kamuzu Central Hospital were full of emergency response vehicles from the Stadium. Malawians have been complaining of firing teargas without proper checking. Malawians are currently asking if police could track down these officers who threw teargas at ordinary people in unprofessional manner.
Malawians have since commended Malawi President, Peter Mutharika for rushing to Kamuzu Central Hospital and cheer up the victims. Meanwhile, Media Advocates for the Advancement of Child Rights (MAACR) President Mallick Mnela says his organization is deeply saddened by the death of 8 people, 7 of whom are children. The people died this morning in a stampede which occurred as people pressed to find the way into the Bingu Stadium in Lilongwe ahead of a scheduled match between Silver Strikers and Nyasa Big Bullets.
Preliminary reports suggest that police fired teargas as they tried to contain the situation. We urge journalists to highlight lapses in police public management systems in riots that involve people of different age groups. Just last month, we called on media practitioners to do the same when the police fired teargas and dispersed pupils rioting in Balaka, Ntcheu and Blantyre.” said Mnela.
Mnela said without prejudice to any inquiry on the current matter, police officers deployed to manage crowds should at all times execute their duties professionally. “Such professional conduct should take cognizance of prevailing child protection principles. Police officers need to be held accountable for failing to execute their duties having reasonably assessed risk of their subsequent public management action.
Some may accuse parents who bring their children to such public events as being irresponsible. However, these parents probably have good intentions of inculcating social awareness in their children. Instead of telling parents to keep their children away from such public events, we should press the authorities to manage public order without using excessive violence or tactics that expose children to greater danger.” said Mnela.
Mnela said children have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by Article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Mnela said it is therefore imperative that police should at all times recognize the need to make their public order methods child-friendly.