The task team at Kampala Metropolitan Police, that is actively investigating the New Year concert stampede at Freedom City Hall, has established clear timelines of the tragic incident, after obtaining credible witness statements, from the proprietors of the venue, other organisers of the event, private security guards, police officers, parents of the victims and survivors to the incidents. They also retrieved CCTV footages and several documents.
In addition to the 9 deceased persons who were identified, the 10th victim has been identified as Musenero Brian, a 16 year old, male juvenile of Ndejje – Wakiso. We also registered the death of the 6-year-old female juvenile, Kauthara Najula, who was with her mother Nakanjako Immaculate, after she succumbed to the injuries from Mulago National Referral Hospital. This now brings the total number of deceased persons to 11. And out of the 18 injured persons some of whom were discharged, statements were obtained from Ssebaka Acreo, an 18 year old, male adult from Makindye, Nabukeera Jalia, a 20 year old female, Muwonge Christopher, an 18 year old, male from Masajja – Makindye, Namuwange Sharuba, a 13 year old female juvenile from Ndejje, Nassaka Patience, a 13 year old female juvenile of Zana- Entebbe road, Kamuuntu Afula, a 20 year old, from Bweyogerere, Amwine Felix, a 24 year old resident of Bwaise and Jimmy, a male adult of Bunamwaya. These 8 injured persons were hospitalised.
The charge sheet has been amended to 11 counts of Rash and Negligent Acts of causing death and an additional 8 counts of other rash and negligent acts causing injuries, respectively. It also included Jjuuko Francis Elvis, the master of ceremony, who was charged to court on the 9.01.2023 and remanded.
The facts gathered so far reveal that the proprietor of Freedom City Hall, John Sebalamu, recorded a statement and also handed over an agreement between Freedom City and Abtex, with clear terms and conditions. Under clause No. 5, the organisers was tasked to provide as a MUST adequate security and crowd control for the event and venue and under clause 6, of the agreement, the organiser was tasked to provide First Aid, Fire and Emergency arrangements for the event, depending on the type, nature and scale of the event.
On the 14.12.2022, Abtex Promotions was granted permission, with safety and security guidelines through the RPC KMP-South. And on the 30.12.2022, the DPC Katwe and team met with the organisers at the venue. It was agreed that Abtex Promotions, takes charges of the inner ring to help secure their cash collections. As a result, the organisers hired bouncers from UUBA Bouncers Association, who are all in hiding and statements yet to be recorded from them, as well as Private Security guards from Freedom City Mall.
It was further established that counter terrorism police officers were put in charge of the access control, search, K9 venue explosive sweeps, snap checks, intelligence and an armed team, while the territorial police under Katwe, was put in charge of the outer ring, which included the parking, traffic control, external environment and patrols.
The findings also indicate that on the 31.12.2022, the management of Freedom City, handed over the hall and children’s play area, that was hired to Abtex Promotions. All the padlocks to the gates and doors were removed, and the venue handed over to Abtex Promotions. Critically, the proprietors of the venue, gave full authority to the organisers. It is also important to note, that Abtex did not apply for fireworks display. Instead management contracted extreme events, to display fireworks on behalf of the whole Freedom City Mall.
The findings further reveal that Abtex Promotions was warned about the potential crowd control and safety concerns by police. The preventive guidelines were clearly spelt out to him during the concert preparations and made aware as organisers of their duty to hire private security, provide emergency medical services, control crowds, forge evacuation routes, cautioned about multiple disorders and other key concerns.
As indicated in the earlier statements, the organisers put profits over the safety of revellers and concert goers. They disregarded the safety and security protocols in the management of the large concert, and issued a dangerous directive to the bouncers, to lock all the other 4 doors, that led to the death of 11 concert goers and the hospitalisation of 8 others. There was also negligence on the part of the organisers for over crowding, beyond the 15,000 capacity, lack of standby medical staff, skilled bouncers, admissions of children without parents/guardians, among others. The MC, Jjuuko Francis Elvis, recklessly informed the revellers and concert goers to move out, to the children’s yard and watch fireworks without alerting the bouncers and local guards to open the gate. As a result, hundreds of revellers dashed towards the only gate, where some got trapped, trampled and piled upon. Three people died on the spot and 8 others were pronounced dead at Mulago National Referral Hospital.
Going forward, we are going to ensure more protective measures to better protect crowds in future are put in place. And effectively fast track them to the dot. We want to also issue a very stern warning to stubborn promoters and organisers of large events, who tend to ignore security and disregard for safety, that they will be held responsible for their actions.
The case file has been resubmitted to the office of the DPP, for legal guidance, on whether or not to charge other suspects, given that they were carrying out a supportive role to the organisers, Abby Musinguzi of Abtex Promotions.
SCP Enanga Fred
9th January 2023