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Police blamed for Freedom City tragedy

by Editorial Team
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By Jeff Andrew Lule 

The Democratic Party (DP) has asked the Police to stop pointing fingers at the event managers and organisers of the Freedom City concert in which 10 people lost their lives during a stampede, during the ushering in of the new year 2023.

The president of the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD), Ismail Kiirya, blamed the Police for not ensuring that the organisers of the concert were complying to the set guidelines during the event.

“They are only pointing fingers at the event managers and organisers as if they accredited themselves. All events of December 31, 2023 were accredited by security. So, security was supposed to go on ground and establish their plans for the event.

“So, should we say the organisers didn’t disclose to the officers how the event was to be run? How the people were going to be inside, then at around midnight move out and watch the fireworks display; what was the response of the security?” he asked.

Kiirya was addressing journalists at the party’s weekly press briefing at the party offices in Kampala on January 3.

He stressed that the ugly incident also dented the image of the Police, for being unprofessional while handling such sensitive events.

“After inspection and clearing the event, they were supposed to go and check to find out whether the guidelines were being followed. But they never did it and that is why we lost all these lives,” Kiirya noted.

He said the officers who cleared the event also need to be questioned because the organisers stipulated their plans to them. “So, why arrest the organisers? This is not proper as justice is concerned,” he added.

Addressing journalists at the joint security briefing on Monday (January 2, 2023), the Uganda Police Force (UPF) spokesperson, Fred Enanga said facts gathered so far indicate that more than 500 revellers were already celebrating the end of year and ushering in the new year at Freedom City in Namasuba on December 31, with everything progressing well until that point when  the master of ceremony recklessly made an announcement for the concert goers to move out and witness the fireworks display in the parking yard and thereafter return to the concert.

Fred Enanga

“Now the parked crowd became dangerous after the rush for fireworks from the hall through a narrow corridor to the only exit point led to a panic mode because all the security guards had locked all the other four entries and exits,” he said.

Enanga noted that during the process of rushing out, several victims were trapped and trampled upon in the narrow passage which became a real bottleneck for some of the juveniles.

He said the Police has already arrested events manager/promoter Abbey Musinguzi of Abitex.

“Our team is already on ground to find out whether the access and exit controls, safety measures against crowd control, safety measures against disorder and stampedes, and evacuations plans were in place, as per guidelines.

“We want to establish whether the paramedics and ambulances were on site, the number of stewards and ushers who were dedicated to the event, and the number of people at the concert among others,” Enanga added.

He confirmed that 10 people had died, including Margaret Naktumba, 29; Mary Namyalo 14; Daniel Kibuuka 14; Hadija Nakakande, Viola Nakanwagi, Shafik Mwanje, Ibrahim Kizito 11, and Hadija Nakimati, while two of the juveniles one aged around 16 and another body have not yet been identified.  

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