KAMPALA – The police have identified victims of a stampede that left 10 people dead at the Freedom City Mall – Namasuba, where thousands had converged to celebrate the end of 2022 – and ushering in the New Year.
Preliminary police findings reveal that more than 500 revellers were attending the concert code-named ‘party after party,’ which Abtex promotions had organised. The stampede, according to police, followed the Master of Ceremony’s extension of an invite to revellers to turn-up and witness fireworks display at the parking yard.
Police said the crowd went berserk, forcing their way through a narrow passage into the parking yard, reportedly because organisers had locked four other exit routes to keep away non-ticketed partygoers or intruders.
The situation led to the trapping and trampling of several revellers, as hundreds was trying to force their way through the narrow corridor.
Police has since identified some of the deceased as Margaret Nakatumba, 29; Mary Namyalo, 14; Daniel Kibuka, 14; Hadijja Nakakande, Viola Nakanwagi, 11; Ibrahim Kizito, Hadijja Nakimati and Shafiq Mwanje.
Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga said the body of a 16-year-old male juvenile who had died at an unnamed private clinic where he was rushed for emergency treatment remains unidentified at the Kampala Capital City Authority – KCCA mortuary.
Enanga said that specialist teams from the Criminal Intelligence & Investigations Department including Forensics, Counter Terrorism and Crime Intelligence were still investigating the tragedy to determine if the concert organisers complied with the security, health and crowd control measures.
Enanga, who was, Monday addressing journalists at the police headquarters in Naguru confirmed that the chief organiser – Abbey Musinguzi of Abtex Promotions, had been arrested to help with investigations – specifically to establish how several juveniles had gained access into concert.
The end-of-year 2022 celebrations were spread out in more than 3,000 venues approved by the police, which included 1,618 fireworks display sites across the country. It was the first time Ugandans were freely partying after two years of global Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
A sombre mood had on New Year engulfed Kampala Capital City Authority – KCCA mortuary, Mulago as families of the victims , turned-up to collect bodies of their loved ones.
Nine people died in the stampede that preceded the fireworks display at musical concert organised in Namasuba – a Kampala city suburb.
The death toll from the stampede rose to 10 after another person, believed to be 17 years, was pronounced died.
A reliable source revealed that the deceased whose identity could not be readily established died at a private clinic near Freedom City Mall, along Entebbe Road where he had rushed.
The victims met their deaths after thousands turned –up to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.
Relatives of the nine victims, most of whom juveniles had received the bodies of their loved ones for burial by Sunday evening. Funeral ambulances and other private vehicles collected the bodies amid sobbing by relatives.
In an earlier statement released by the Kampala Metropolitan Police – KMP deputy Public Relations Officer, Luke Owoyesigyire, investigations into what they described as a ‘rush and negligent act had commenced.
Police alleged that the Master of Ceremony had encouraged revellers to go outside the mall to watch the fireworks display. After the display had ended, a stampede ensued, resulting in the instant deaths of five people while scores sustained injuries. Police were yet to release the identities of the victims but almost all victims were claimed by their respective relatives for burial.
Owoyesigyire said that part of the Freedom City Mall – the scene of crime – had been closed to allow for investigations.
Another event that had been planned for the same venue was cancelled as police authorities cordoned off the area as a scene of crime.
Besides a mega entertainment hall, the premises houses several other businesses – including banking, a supermarket as well as private offices.