Govt seizes passports of food stampede organizers

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 09:59:20 +0000

 

By OSCAR MALIPENGA and SANDRA MACHIMA

GOVERNMENT has confiscated travel documents for the church group calling itself Lesedi Seven under the Church of Christ following the death of eight people in a stampede at the Olympic Youth Development Center (OYDC) in Lusaka on Monday.

Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo told Parliament that passports of the organizers of the church conference had been confiscated pending investigations because the conveners of the gathering were foreigners.

Eight people died while 28 others were injured in a stampede at OYDC as 35,000 people invited by the church jostled to enter the premises to receive food hampers.

The victims were among the huge crowd which the group called Lesedi Seven under the Church of Christ had invited for prayers at OYDC.

Mr Kampyongo told Parliament yesterday the unfortunate incident was partly due to failure by the organizers to observe the provisions of the Public Order Act.

He said the organizers began the programme earlier than indicated in their notification to the police, resulting into public disorder before the arrival of the police at the scheduled time.

“The incident at the OYDC underscores the importance of complying with the provisions of the Public Order Act.

“Had it not been for the quick police response, more people could have been injured and more lives could have been lost,” Mr Kampyongo said.

Meanwhile, Mr Kampyongo told leader of the opposition  in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu not to politicize the incident.

This followed a question by Mr Mwiimbu who wanted to find out whether the incident was as a result of criminality or severe poverty levels that was affecting the people of Zambia, adding that he had information that people started trooping to OYDC as early as 02:00 hours.

In his response, Mr Kampyongo said the Monze Central parliamentarian should learn to respect the people of Zambia, adding that he should not think that when people go for prayers they followed food.

Mr Kampyongo said the conveners offered the people food hampers not because they were hunger-stricken but as a normal practice of giving the less privileged gifts after conducting prayers.

Earlier, Mr Kampyongo told Parliament that Zambia has recorded a decline in the incidents of murder and aggravated robberies. “Overall, the incidents of crime are on the decline,” Mr Kampyongo said after giving an update on the recent murders in Lusaka.

And a check by the Daily Nation at OYDC revealed that the foodstuffs that were supposed to be donated to those attending the ill-fated meeting were still stuck at OYDC pending investigations.

However the business at OYDC was back to normal despite the entrance having been damaged.

And former Roma ward 17councillor Norman Nyendwa has called on the ministries of Religious Affairs and Home Affairs to expeditiously investigate the incident.

“I wish to remind and reprimand the so-called donors that this Government has well established and well-structured offices like the Ministry of Community Development, DMMU, district commissioners and civil leaders who could have done a better job,” he said.

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