By Spy Uganda
The death toll in a stampede at a shopping mall during New Year’s celebrations in Kampala rose to 10 on Monday, the vice president said, while police charged the event’s organizer Abbey Musinguzi aka Abitex with murder.
On top of murder, Abitex who on Tuesday appeared before the Makindye Magistrates Court presided over by magistrate Igga Adiru was accused of negligence exhibited by his management.
State prosecution told court that Abitex and others still at large did not put in place life saving avenues that could have barred the unfortunate stampede from occuring.
”Abitex and his colleagues locked the outlets at the venue and left out only one in a bid to hinder unticketed revellers from getting access to the venue. This was a key factor that caused bodily harm and loss of lives of the ten people who perished in the stampede,” prosecutor told court.
However, Abitex lawyer Erias Lukwago disregarded all the charges against his client saying it is just foul play with sinister intentions to persecute his client for his political beliefs. Lukwago maintains that the key culprits to be in the dock are supposed to be the building owner Ssebalamu and his managers and not Abitex who had hired the venue. He adds that by the virtue of the fact that police had cleared the concert, there is no way his client should be affiliated to the natural disaster that followed on.
Meanwhile, Lukwago’s defense didn’t stop magistrate Adiru from remanding Abitex to Luzira maximum prison till January 10th when he will return for trial.
Vice President Jessica Alupo, who visited the scene, told journalists that one more person died Sunday night from their injuries after being caught in the crush of hundreds trying to exit the Freedom City Mall venue through a single door when the emcee encouraged them to watch a fireworks display.
Four children, aged 10 to 17, were among the dead. Police said they were investigating how they accessed the event since minors must be accompanied to such gatherings by a responsible adult. Police said the organizer didn’t follow that guideline.
Alupo said the government will pay $1,350 to each victim’s family to help with burial costs.