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BNS stampede victims can seek legal action

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HUMAN Rights lawyer David Matumika Banda has said the findings in the taskforce report  on Bingu National Stadium (BNS) stampede may not be entirely conclusive on actionable negligence.

The taskforce was instituted by President Peter Mutharika to inquire into circumstances that led to stampede, tragic deaths of eight people including seven children and injuries to over 60 people at the stadium on independence day.

The report cited poor planning and all stakeholders’ negligence as major reasons for the tragedy. Banda said the report has some elements of negligence by some of the stakeholders but a more detailed inquiry may be necessary to prove actual obligations and duties owed by the stakeholders to the victims.

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He, however, insists cases where negligence causes harm or injury, damages are payable by the parties in the wrong. Matumiza Banda said the injured or the deceased’s relations can go to court because some elements of negligence have already been found but, a court process is also an inquiry, and it will be premature to conclude damages would be payable.

He said the taskforce report brought curiosity for indicating that every stakeholder was found to have been at fault. “I would advise that they [victims or their relations] consult a legal practitioner to guide them on what remedies they may have,” Matumika Banda said.

The stampede happened when fans jostled for seats in the 40,000 seat facility to watch a match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers. In a report presented to Mutharika, the taskforce cited poor decision making of the police, sports department officials and stadium officials’ management skills and training and poor conduct of District Health Office first aid personnel.

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It also cited poor planning, poor coordination among stakeholders, weak stadium access control, poorly planned and ineffectively execution of ticket use in controlling crowds, late opening of the gates and parental irresponsibility.

The taskforce said planning for BNS activities was under the main organising committee and ordinarily, the sub-committees would have served the main committees but there was none.

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