Victims of Bingu National Stadium (BNS) stampede which happened on July 6, 2017 have taken government to task, demanding compensation for loss and damage to the victims and their families.
The Sunday Times understands that the 24 victims and the family members of eight deceased persons, on October 30, 2017 gave government 90 days to respond to their demands or risk being sued.
Lawyers’ Forum for Human Rights is representing the group on the matter through its Pro-bono Litigation Project.
The forum’s Executive Director, Chancy Mwalubunju, confirmed the development yesterday and said the demands are because there was gross negligence among the State agents involved that led to the stampede thus violating the right to life of the victims.
“This is against laws of Malawi as well as international human rights laws,” he said
The State agents include the main organising committee led by Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, and other parties such as the management of BNS, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security among others.
Mwalubunju said the victims are demanding both financial and health care support.
“They demand reasona monetary compensation to each of the individuals injured as damages for the pain, suffering, as well as loss incurred in violation of their right to security of person and right to health. Reasonable monetary compensation to each immediate family of individual victim who died for loss of life and amenities incurred in violation of their right to life,” he said.
He, however, said government through the office of the Attorney General has opted to negotiate and reach a settlement on the demands.
Through their demand, the victims argue that they were invited by the State to a football match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers as part of celebrations of the country’s 53rd independence.
However, they say the delay to open gates by State agents was a gross negligence as people had already gathered in large numbers waiting for entry.
They argue that firing of teargas by the police as a means of controlling the crowd aggravated the stampede and led to the deaths and injuries.
The victims also contend that the said State agents had only one ambulance with no evacuation plans put in place to take care of the situation hence aggravating the effect of the stampede.
A report from a Presidential Task Force that looked into the incident cited poor planning and stakeholders’ negligence as major reasons for the tragedy.
In September 2017, the Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs pressed government to compensate the victims.
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