New Year stampede: What Freedom City boss told police
What you need to know:
Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, told the media in Kampala yesterday that Mr Sebalamu handed over an agreement signed between Freedom City and Abtex, with clear terms and conditions
Mr John Sebalamu, the proprietor of Freedom City mall on Entebbe road, where 10 people died during the New Year Eve stampede, has recorded a statement with police.
Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, told the media in Kampala yesterday that Mr Sebalamu handed over an agreement signed between Freedom City and Abtex, with clear terms and conditions.
“The facts so far gathered reveal that the proprietor of the Freedom City mall made an agreement with Abtex with clear terms and conditions in which the organiser was to provide adequate security and crowd control for the event and venue. Under 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,” Mr Enanga said.
According to police, on December 14, Abitex was granted permission to organise the event but with specific security and safety guidelines to be followed. On December, 30, the Katwe Divisional Police Commander and his team met with the organisers at the venue for inspection and clearance.
Mr Enanga said it was agreed that Abitex’s team manages the inside of the venue to secure the cash collections. So, he hired bouncers and private security guards for the function “who are all hiding and the police are looking for them’’. He added that police counter-terrorism officers were in charge of access control, searches, explosive sweeps, snap checks, and intelligence while policemen from Katwe Divisional Police Headquarters were in charge of the outer ring [venue], which extended to the parking, traffic control, external environment, and patrols.
Police also indicated that Abtex didn’t apply for a fireworks display, but rather the management of Freedom City mall contracted Extreme events to display it on behalf of the entire mall.
“The case file has been resubmitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution for legal guidance, on whether or not to charge other suspects given that they were carrying our supportive role to the organisers, Abby Musinguzi of Abtex promotions,” Mr Enanga said.
Last week, police summoned Mr Sebalamu, police officers and other security personnel, event organisers, masters of ceremony, ushers, and bouncers for questioning.
Police preliminary investigations indicated that the stampede happened when the master of ceremonies, during the concert, asked revellers to move out and watch a fireworks display, but a stampede occurred as they pushed to move through the only exit of the venue.
Mr Enanga said they have also recorded statements from witnesses, eight victims out of the15 who were hospitalised, and parents of the victims, and obtained CCTV footage and other documents.
He noted that in addition to 10 deceased persons who were identified, the death of a three-year-old female juvenile, who was with her mother, Immaculate Nakanjako, has been registered, bringing the total number of deceased persons to 11.
Police investigations indicate that on December 31, the management of Freedom City handed over the venue plus the children’s play area to Abitex for the event.
“All the padlocks to the gates and doors were removed by the management of Freedom City before the venue was handed over to Abitex to show that he had full authority over the venue. The findings also indicate that Abitex was warned about the potential crowd control and safety concerns by police,’’ Mr Enanga said.