Santa Rita de Cassia president Nzolonzi blames police for Angolan stampede

The stampede in Uige left 17 football fans dead, while 56 more were admitted to the nearest hospital with serious injuries

Santa Rita de Cassia club president Pedro Nzolonzi has blamed Angolan police for the stadium stampede which claimed 17 lives on Friday night. 

Football fans used force to enter the stadium during the match between Santa Rita de Cassia and Recreativo do Libolo in the Angolan top flight after initially being denied entry, but according to Nzolonzi, the tragedy should have easily been avoided. 

He believes the police shouldn't have allowed the fans so close to the pitch as the majority of them didn't have match tickets. 

"It is all the fault of the police. It was easy to avoid. They just need to extend the safety cordon," Pedro Nzolonzi, the president of the Santa Rita de Cassia club,  told Portuguese news agency, Lusa.

"There was serious police error in letting the people so close to the field. Many of them did not want to pay and those who had tickets could not get in. Then the confusion began," he said.

The Recreativo do Libolo club said in an official statement after the match: "While the players were on the field, outside fans were trying to get into the stadium and a gate probably gave way to the pressure of the crowd causing several people to fall who were literally trampled on by the crowd."

Police spokesperson Orlando Bernardo confirmed that 56 people were still in hospital after sustaining serious injuries.

"There was a blockage at the entrance to the January 4 Stadium... this obstruction caused multiple fatalities and there are 56 injured in the hospital," police spokesman Orlando Bernardo told the AFP news agency.

Ernesto Luis, director general of the local hospital, told Reuters  that people had suffocated in the crush.

"Some people had to walk on top of other people," he said. "There were 76 casualties, of whom 17 died," he concluded.  

João Silva, a 37-year-old football fan, suffered a broken leg in the priocess, and he told Reuters of what really happened.

"When we wanted to go in, we found a barrier," Silva said.

"The first row of people fell down... I was in the third layer [of people]."

Domingos Vika, 35, who broke a hand, also told Reuters: "When they gave the opportunity for everyone to come in, we were all packed at the gate already."

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ordered an investigation into the tragedy.  

"I express my solidarity with the families of the deceased and have instructed the Provincial Government of Uige to provide all necessary assistance to the injured and have given guidance to the competent authorities to open an inquiry that will establish the cause of this serious incident," Dos Santos said. 


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