Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Heads must roll on July 6 stadium stampede


YESTERDAY was meant to be a happy day for the nation, time when we were commemorating that the pillar of Malawi’s independence has been standing for 53 years.

Needless to say that the nationalists purchased the liberties we are enjoying at a very high price, to the extent that some were jailed, assaulted while others waded through dams of blood to drown the idle of arbitrary power.

However, this year’s commemorations ended in disaster as at least eight innocent people died while over 60 others got injured in a stampede at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.


An issue that would have been sorted out through proper people management skills ended in disaster as law enforcers, who seem to be stuck with the idea that excess force and teargas use are the only reliable paths to reinforcing peace, fired teargas canisters at people in their quest to control the situation.

The way the police handled the situation is typical of the way we have been managing things since independence as, yet again, those responsible for enforcing the law showed that we have become experts at creating chaos.

Apart from the fact that our 53 years of independence, especially after the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1994, have been littered with such shameful acts as economic mismanagement, corruption, nepotism and dwindling education standards, one of the issues that has blighted the country’s march towards progress has been poor crowd control strategies.


Again, we apportion blame to those who were tasked with opening the gates. It beats us that, while such people knew that an important match would be played at the venue, they decided to sleep on the job by taking ages to do the needful— namely, opening the gates.

Consequently, people, most of them children, had to fight for their way into the stadium, causing a stampede that is not only shameful but fatal. While we find solace in the fact that President Peter Mutharika visited the injured at the hospital, we fear that, after the shock is gone, we will revert to our lackadaisical way of doing things.

We also find that the President was dead silent on the issue of the next course of action, for, really, helping families of the injured and bereaved should not be the end of the story. In other words, we demand concrete action from the State.

We would, therefore, like to urge the authorities to create a body that would investigate the circumstances that led to the death of innocent people whose only sin was to celebrate the day of their national independence.

Indeed, we need to come to the bottom of the issue to avoid such cases in future. Among other things, we should establish why those entrusted with manning the gates at the stadium took ages to open them.

Malawians will also wish to know why police always think teargas is the answer for peace, when there are other crowd-control measures. We cannot continue living like this.

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