A presidential pronouncement this Thursday ordered that music festivals at the Botswana stadiums and other public places be banned with immediate effect. This follows the stadium stampede that killed a 22-year old University of Botswana student at the Gaborone International Music and Culture (GIMC) Festival that appears to have been oversold.
The deceased, Nametso Bogopa, was found dead at the entrance gate of the National Stadium where the festival was held. The University of Botswana (UB) third year Business Management student is believed to have been stamped upon by other revelers in a stampede caused by the fight to gain entry into the festival venue. After she was found, she was rushed to hospital where she was certified dead.
In the statement issued from the Office of The President, an order has been made to ban the music festivals. “A decision has been made as follows:
Music festivals at stadia and other public places will no longer be permitted;
Local authorities should not issue any permits for such activities in public places
“The decision affects both planned and future events. The Ministry of Local Government and that of Youth Empowerment and Sport are directed to ensure that these measures are implemented without fail,” the statement reads.
The minister of youth sports and culture Thapelo Olopeng has since promised to fight back the directive, saying it is his responsibility to promote, grow and protect the entertainment industry in this country. “We will not allow certain individuals to destroy this industry by not complying to set rules. Those who take advantage of alcohol influence to destroy property will be dealt with. I’m on the issue. Give me time,” he said, adding that he will call a press conference on the matter on Monday.
The directive has got the music loving community worried that a well-publicised UB40 festival set for the national stadium will not materialize. The UB40 concert organisers have yet to say what will happen as tickets of the festival are already being sold. Many other people question the wisdom of the directive, asking what would happen if a person dies at a stampede during a football match or at BDF Day celebrations.
Meanwhile, the University of Botswana staff and students gathered Wednesday for a memorial service of the late Bogopa ahead of her burial on Saturday in Ratholo. The memorial service included a march to the scene where her lifeless body was found by the stadium entrance, where mourners laid flowers in tribute.
Her untimely death attracted wide criticism from all quarters with many attributing her death to the failure of the festival organisers to pay attention to security detail.
One of the event’s organisers, Fish Pabalinga, has since posted an apology to the public, saying, “Our team is working with the relevant authorities to investigate a fatal stampede that occurred as a result of people trying to force their way into the stadium.
“We offer condolences to the family of the deceased. We request that we be allowed time to exhaust the necessary options to deal with this matter. It is worth noting that the risk management plan kicked in as soon as we saw signs of safety risks.”
Music festivals will no longer be held at the national stadium, according to an Office of the President directive