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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Stampede report is a disgrace

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There are families in Mtandire and Mtsiliza townships in Lilongwe that will never celebrate July 6 Independence Day because of the loss of their children on this day.

The loss was not only unimaginable but painful.

For these families and the rest of the nation, the only justice that can be offered to those little souls trampled to death is the truth: the truth about who exactly made the wrong decision and at what point, and what disciplinary action has been taken on them.

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So, for the presidential task force, which purportedly investigated the stampede, to come and tell this nation that their findings fault the police, sports department officials, stadium officials and district health office’s first-aid personnel is, to say the least, exasperating.

None of these departments can be prosecuted for ignoring their respective duties or responsibilities on that day; pushing the blame on them will not in any way bring the justice being sought after.

We echo sentiments by human rights activists that the report has only presented the obvious. Telling us about gates opening late, poor coordination does not bring anything new or offer solutions to avoid a recurrence. We already know that. What it should tell us is who was responsible? Who ordered that the gates should open late and why?

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The task force, already with a questionable level of independence due to its composition that includes OPC and other government officials, is spreading the fault all over the place, purposely avoiding to point a finger at the exact culprit. This report is weak, pale and lacks substance.

Elsewhere, loss of lives is an unforgivable offence and is never taken lightly. By now, the magnitude of the July 6 tragedy should have seen someone resign or actually fired or even prosecuted. But all this has been a charade just to hoodwink Malawians that the government is concerned.

Whether with an intent to simply protect fellow technocrats, this report is only scratching on the surface, and as has been the case with the other reports submitted after a presidential inquiry; we won’t be surprised to see this matter die a natural death, with absolutely no-one to answer for those lost souls.

How pathetic are we as a country that of all our failures, we can’t even offer basic justice to our children who, for the love of a football match, had to die in such a painful manner. We beseech the President to ensure that someone is held accountabl; otherwise, this report is annoying, empty and shallow.

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