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Who gave the order?

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Officials from the Department of Sports in the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development ordered Bingu National Stadium (BNS) officials not to open the gates at 6am as agreed, something that led to the death of eight people, that included seven children on Independence Day, we can reveal

Following this order (at 10 am), there were a lot of people that wanted to get in at the same time, a thing which led to a stampede that also injured 68 people.

In addition to the information which our sister paper, The Daily Times published earlier, that Independence Day celebrations organisers rejected advice from the police and BNS officers in order to accommodate Democratic Progressive Party women and party cadres, we have information (including names) that officials from the ministry also played a major role.

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Our sources say it is an official from the ministry who ordered that the stadium should not be opened at 6 am.

We contacted one of the people that were mentioned (name withheld) but he said he was not involved in anything to do with opening of the gates on this day.

“I did not play any role in the opening and closing of the gates at BNS on this day. I had a different role to play and not what you are talking about. Please, I am not the spokesperson of either BNS or the ministry so I’m not better placed to say anything on this matter,” he said.

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BNS Manager, Eric Ning’ang’a, said he has said what he had to say and he is no longer going to say anything more on the issue.

“I am hearing of this order thing from you…I do not want to answer any more questions on this issue. Let us let the established inquiry do its work …I may comment later on,” Ning’ang’a said.

But Ning’ang’a spoke his mind to the media earlier this week.

“I was not part of the organising committee, but I made a suggestion that the gates should open at 6am and not 10am as it had been arranged. But the organisers stuck to the scheduled time,” he told The Nation of Monday, July 10, 2017.

But the officials from the ministry have refused to say anything on the matter, attributing this to the inquiry which President Peter Mutharika has established.

Spokesperson for the ministry, Simon Mbvundula, said, much as he was not aware of the issue, he could not comment because of the Inquiry that has been instituted.

Principal Secretary (PS) in the ministry, Joseph Mwandidya, echoed Mbvundula’s sentiments.

“As much as I want to say something, I can’t. I am one of the people in the task force to probe this issue so I will only say something when the investigations are over,” he said.

Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Henry Mussa, also said he could not say anything until the results of the probe are out.

During the country’s 53rd anniversary celebrations, the gates (of the 41,000 capacity) BNS were opened late and this led to the stampede.

A police preliminary investigations report blames the late opening of the gates for the stampede. It also reveals that the organising committee rejected advice from the law enforcers to open the gates earlier.

But main organising committee chairperson, Joseph Mwanamveka, told our sister paper that his committee did not make such an order.

Mutharika has since appointed a taskforce to investigate the stampede within two weeks.

The taskforce comprises PS in the Office of President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi, PS for Home Affairs and Internal Security Sam Madula, and Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs senior assistant chief state advocate Steven Kayuni among others.

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