Govt must probe Sunday's stampede

SUNDAY should just have been a day to celebrate the achievements of the senior men’s soccer team, the Warriors — for securing a berth at this year’s African Cup of Nations — to be held in Egypt in three months’ time.

The Warriors’ victory deserved to be savoured with merriment befitting a nation that had just come out of grieving following the sad and painful loss of lives mostly in Manicaland by tropical Cyclone Idai.

Instead, by the end of match on Sunday we were back to mourning as news filtered through that a woman had died and dozens others injured during a stampede at one of the gates leading into the National Sports Stadium.
Stampedes are a result of poor crowd control and atrocious gate management at football matches.

Sunday’s stampede was least expected, because expectations were high that Zifa and security details had held a dry run for the match days before actual match day.
This was particularly so given that Zifa appeared to have successfully sold thousands of match tickets both online and through various agents in advance.

We expected them to have tested the scanning machines which failed to last the duration of fans’ admission to the giant stadium.
The way both security and gate management had been organised left a lot to be desired.
Zifa claimed and advertised that gates would be closed at 13:30hrs — one-and-half hours before the kick-off — but this did not happen.

Fans continued streaming into the stadium well after kick-off.
Zifa had said they would not be selling tickets on match day but they went against this and set up a tent at the Long Cheng Mall which meant desperate fans had to make a dash before kick-off.
Crucially, both fans who bought the tickets in advance and those who made a last minute rush were frustrated by the poor gate management where for inexplicable reasons, people had to get through turnstiles instead of the gates.

The scanning machines malfunctioned meaning further delays for those who had stood for long in the serpentine queues which formed outside the stadium.
This created outright chaos which led to others scaling the security barricades.

It wasn’t surprising that we ended up having a stampede.
Government must launch an urgent probe into what caused the stampede but not look further than the poor crowd control and gate management witnessed on Sunday.
Heads must roll.

    Comments (1)

    Citizenry must by now be alert to the fact that nothing organised by government or its quassi entities zanupf zifa zrp zimra etc will be professional runs perfectly & safely well. There is no head that will roll.

    Widzo - 27 March 2019

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