By Ivan Mwine
The Uganda Police have revealed that the organisers of Saturday’s tragic concert at Freedom City, which left at least 10 people dead and several injured on New Year’s Eve, neglected the safety of revellers in a bid to maximise profits.
The said concert, which had been organized by city events promoter Abby Misunguzi aka Abtex under his company Abtex Promotions, erupted into a stampede as revellers ushered in the New Year, which resulted in the victims’ death.
However, according to a statement from the police issued by the Police Spokesperson the tragedy would have been avoided if the organisers of the concert had put in place all necessary safety precautions.
Enanga said thus in a statement about the matter, shortly after Abtex’s arrest;
“The Territorial Police in KMP South and Katwe Division have arrested the promoter of a New Year concert at Freedom City Hall, that led to a stampede that has so far killed 10 concert goers. The incident happened on the 1.01.2022 at around 00.10hrs, at Freedom City in Namasuba where about 400 revellers and concert goers were celebrating the End of Year/New Year. The celebrations were progressing well, till that point where the Master of Ceremonies, recklessly made an announcement for the concert goers to move out and watch the fireworks display in the parking lot, and thereafter return to the concert.”
He added that; “The parked crowd of about 400 people became dangerous, after the rush for fireworks from the hall, through a narrow corridor, to the only exit/entry point, after the local security guards had locked all the other gates. As a result, several victims were trapped, others trampled upon through the narrow passageway which became a real bottleneck.”
The police spokesperson identified the victims as follows; Kibuuka Daniel, a 10 year old, male juvenile of Gangu “B”zone, Kibuuka Daniella, a 14 year old, female juvenile of Gangu “B” zone, Kizito Ibrahim, an 11 year old, male juvenile of Kyebando Erisa zone, Hakimati Nazima, a 13 year old, female juvenile of Kyebando – Erisa zone, Nakanwagi Viola, an 18 year old female adult of Watuba-Matugga, Namyalo Mary, a 30 year old hairdresser of Ndejje-Luga zone, Nakakande Hadijah, a 16 year old, female juvenile of Massajja “B” zone, Nakatumba Margret, a 29 year old, female adult of Kanyanya, Mwanje Safik and unidentified juvenile.
He also revealed that; “The concert that was organised by one Abby Musinguzi of Abitex was parked to capacity with performances from various artists. The premises were physically inspected by counter-terrorism officers for fireworks and the territorial police of Katwe for the concert. The organisers and their private security were in charge of the inner security, while the external security and perimeter was manned by the police and other security personnel, due to the existing threat environment.”
“We have also established that the organisers put profits before the safety of revellers and concert goers, by using only one gate on the assumption that other non-ticketed persons would take advantage and gain entry. We are also investigating circumstances under which young children between 10 – 17 years, gained entry into the venue. Usually, concerts and festivals require the concert goers to be 18 years and above, because they can legally make their own decisions. Juveniles between 13 -17 can only attend, if accompanied by an adult or responsible person,” Enanga added.
He also noted that a thorough police investigation by specialist teams from CID, Forensic, Counter Terrorism and Crime Intelligence continues to take place.
“Our areas of interest are the access and exit controls, the safety measures against crowd controls, disorders and stampedes, evacuation plans, paramedics and ambulances on site, number of stewards/ushers dedicated to the event and the number of people at the concert among others. All persons found culpable shall be brought to book,” Enanga warned.
“We also want to use this opportunity to remind organisers and promoters of events, proprietors of venues, to always follow the police guidelines on the safe management of public and major events,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, by press time, the proprietor of Freedom City tycoon John Ssebalamu had not yet issued a statement about the tragedy, although sources revealed that the police were hunting for him and other suspects to help with their investigations.