Pasuwa recounts stadium disaster horror

HARARE - Zimbabwe and South African players resorted to drinking water from the toilet bowl to contain effects of teargas fumes during the July 9, 2000 National Sports Stadium disaster.

This was revealed by Calisto Pasuwa, who was one of the Warriors defenders, during that ill-fated 2002 World Cup qualifier stampede which left 13 people dead and thousands injured.

Shortly after Bafana Bafana midfielder Delron Buckley scored the visitors’ second goal, all hell broke loose as Warriors fans began throwing missiles onto the pitch.

Police reacted by firing teargas into the stands with close to 40 000 fans which resulted in stampedes as people ran for cover.

Alec Fidesi, Eularia Made, T Makonese, Tawanda Gwanzura, Patrick Mpariwa, Killian Madondo, George Chin’anga, Sam Mavhuro, Enock Chimombe, Joyce Chimbamba, Benhilda Magadu, Ronald Kufakunesu and Tonderai Jeke all lost their lives in the chaos.

Up until this day, the disaster remains as one of Zimbabwe’s worst sporting tragedies and sadly, very little has been done to commemorate those lost lives.

The 15th anniversary of the disaster came and went unnoticed last week with the entire Zimbabwe football fraternity turning a blind eye on this sorry episode.

However, speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Pasuwa, who is now the Zimbabwe national team coach, spoke of the horror the players on the field went through.

“All I still remember is when they (Bafana) scored their second goal and the fans started throwing missiles presumably in retaliation to a gesture Buckley had made,” said Pasuwa.

“The referee and the security ushered us towards the centre circle where we could not get hit by missiles but that’s when the police started firing the teargas.

“Some fans threw back some of the teargas canisters onto the field and the fumes were now affecting us as well.

“The last memory I have after that is of Norman Mapeza running towards the terraces screaming that one of his relatives had been trampled on during the stampede.”

From there on, it was total chaos according to Pasuwa.

“The teargas fumes were now heavy and together with the other players, we tried to run back into the dressing rooms from the centre circle,” he said.

“I could barely run as I couldn’t breathe because of the teargas. I lost consciousness and passed out on the turf.

“I don’t know who carried me but all I could remember was waking up in the dressing room and drinking water directly from the toilet bowl.

“Because of all the chaos, you could not find a sink to drink from and the toilet bowl was the easiest option to get water.

“Everyone was getting water from the toilet bowl even the South African players as well. All the team doctors and medics were running all over to try and help us.”

Pasuwa said as the commotion in the dressing rooms died down, most of the players did not realise the full extent of the tragedy which had just unfolded before their eyes.

“At that point, we were still disappointed with the result and the traumatic experience we had just gone through with the teargas fumes,” he said.

“It was when we got to the hotel and we were told a number of people had died in the stampede but were not quite sure of the numbers.

“It was just a sorry situation at the hotel as we could not comprehend what had just transpired.” 

Pasuwa, who went on to coach Dynamos and win four league titles on the trot, feels the country needs to do more to commemorate those 13 lives lost.

“After a tragedy like this, we need to sit down to discuss how we can honour those who have lost their lives,” he said.

“These people had families and some were breadwinners so we need to keep on supporting them up until this day.

“You must remember, those who died had come to support us the players and Zimbabwe their country. They were in the stadium for a good reason and we need to respect them even after they have died.

“I know the current economic situation might hinder us from supporting their families financially but just honouring those 13 people will go a long way in making the loss easy for their families.

“Look, other countries like Zambia are doing it. Supporters are also an integral part of football.”

 

Comments (5)

well said...big up Pasuwa

mkanya - 15 July 2015

May their souls rest in eternal peace. We love them and miss them too. Thank you King Kali

Nikita - 15 July 2015

Zimbabwe is the second poorest country in the world and topping the list Congo -Kinshasa. Both countries very rich in mineral resources and close friends, Zimbabweans soldiers once deployed in DRC. They have the most precious minerals but the poorest in the world.

Dee - 15 July 2015

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