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Chakwera wants independent inquiry on stadium stampede

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MALAWI Congress Party(MCP) President and Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera has called for an independent probe into the stampede that caused death of eight people and injured 62 others at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe.

The stampede happened as people wanted to enter into the stadium to watch a football match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers which was one of the activities marking 53 years of Malawi’s independence from British rule.

Chakwera said it is illogical to entrust the same people who are supposed to be accountable with the responsibility of probing the tragedy they were part of. In an interview after he had visited the injured at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCN) on Friday, the MCP leader said the nation “must draw whole lot of lessons from such an occurrence.”

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He said when a tragedy which kills eight people including seven children and critically injuring several other children happens, it is better to have an independent commission that looks at every angle. “You cannot have people investigating themselves,” Chakwera said.

He also said Malawians can only hope that such investigations can yield the results that can bring changes.

“Sometimes you have these investigations and all they come up with are recommendations and nobody wants to follow [up]. Such tokenism is not good,” he said.

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Chakwera said while commending government for instituting investigations into incidents such as the one in question, the country must also push for action on recommendations.

Meanwhile, National Police Spokesperson James Kadadzera has said preliminary results of police investigations into the matter point at late opening of the gates as main reason for the stampede.

He said the Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama has also instituted a committee to conduct a full internal inquiry. “The committee is in full swing already,” Kadadzera said.

President Peter Mutharika has faulted the police’s crowd control system for the stampede which forced him to cancel his scheduled attendance at BNS which still went ahead, to the disappointment of other human right activists.

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