Tears as families narrate Freedom City nightmare 

Relatives of the deceased revellers wait for the bodies of their loved ones at the City Mortuary yesterday. PHOTO | MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • While at the clinic, police continued to ferry in victims of the stampede. Some of the victims’ relatives were also picking up the bodies of their loved ones.

Prosy Namulindwa, mother of  Daniella Kibuuka and Daniel Kibuuka

I left home at around 4:30pm and headed to Freedom City with my four children.  At the facility, the children played in the pool.

At around 8pm, they closed the swimming pool and other places where children were playing.  A group of children then went on a stage that had been prepared for the musical fete and started entertaining the revellers.

At 11pm, I decided to get out of the venue. We planned to leave early so that the fireworks could find us outside. As we left, the MC (master of ceremonies) announced that those interested in watching the fireworks would use a small exit. They found us in the line as we headed out..

We were next to a small corridor near the upper parking space. As people continued to get out, the person who was manning the small gate closed it and ordered people to go back inside.

Remember, there were many people trying to go outside. People were packed at the end of the small get and more continued to move towards it. In the process, we got stuck.

Many people started fainting and children started crying. My two older children were holding each other and got separated from me. When the stampede started, I requested a random man to help me get the younger children I was holding over the fence because the youngest had started fainting.

 I then started looking for the older children but I couldn’t move. I was also struggling to stay alive. Some people fell down.

When the number of people trapped in the stretch of a small gate reduced, I started moving around in search of my children. I moved in and around Freedom City but I could not find them. I could see many people on the ground. I requested a police officer to take care of the younger children and went inside but I didn’t find them.

A police officer called me aside and asked me for the ages of the children I was looking for. When I told him, he advised me to go to Mulago [hospital]. I got scared. I loaded airtime on my phone and called a friend to come and pick up the younger children.

As I waited for her, another police officer advised me to go to the nearby clinic in Namasuba on Entebbe Road. I then walked to a clinic called Dr Hakim Clinic where some of the victims were being taken.

 I asked a boda boda to direct me to where the ambulances were taking the victims. He directed me to another clinic. When I entered the clinic, some dead bodies were on the floor and covered. I checked the legs of two dead bodies looking for my daughter but she wasn’t one of them.

I proceeded to the next room. Here, I found my bag next to a body which was completely covered. When I uncovered it, I discovered that it was my daughter.  I didn’t know where my son was.

While at the clinic, police continued to ferry in victims of the stampede. Some of the victims’ relatives were also picking up the bodies of their loved ones.

My daughter’s body was taken to Mulago while I continued to search for my son. I went to another clinic in Kabowa where I found his body. There were many people at the clinic. Other victims were taken to Kiruddu.

Ms Joweria Namayanja, sister to late Maria Namyalo

We waited for my sister until 4am. She didn’t come home. Then I called her number and a stranger answered it and immediately switched off without saying a word.

I called a friend who told me about the stampede at Freedom City. She added that the dead and wounded were taken to Mulago.

We started making frantic calls and rushed to Mulago Hospital. I immediately ran to the mortuary but when I described my sister to the attendants, they told me she was not there.

I then went to Freedom City but they told me to go and check with Katwe Police Station. At the station, they told me to go back to Mulago hospital. At Mulago, I went to the casualty ward but she was not there. I then went to the city mortuary where I found her body.

She died at one of the clinics on Entebbe Road where she had been rushed to get first aid. I can’t believe Maria is gone. Everywhere I went, I found people looking for their loved ones.

 Mr Julius Katongole, LCV councillor, Rubaga division

I was at Freedom City by the time the stampede happened. Hundreds of people were forcing their way out through a narrow exit of the building to watch fireworks. It was midnight.

Since almost the entire crowd wanted to move out at the same time, this caused commotion at the exit causing suffocation and subsequently, some people, especially the children lost consciousness which resulted in the deaths we are counting today.

But this should be a lesson to the event organisers. I am sure all the venues have capacity limits (Maximum number of people hosted in the place).

Unfortunately, in this case, the capacity limits were not considered. They just allowed people to get in beyond their capacity. This risks people’s lives.

Government should investigate the matter and provide a detailed report on the death of our people. We are not sure whether all the operating procedures were followed in organising this fatal event.