15 Fans Dead after Congo Soccer Stadium Stampede
At least 15 people have died and close to two dozen others were injured during a stampeded at a soccer game in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on May 11. A riot erupted at the match between Tout Puissant Mazembe and AS Vita Club when it was announced that five minutes of injury time would be added on at the end of the contest.
After the extra time was added on, hooligans began to throw objects and rocks onto the pitch at Tata Raphael Stadium. This resulted in the referee blowing the final whistle to put an end to the game. Local police then fired tear gas into the stadium and it caused a stampede as fans tried to escape the fumes.
A city official named Emmanuel Akweti stated, “Four policemen were harassed by supporters. When they fired tear gas, the stampede began, causing the deaths.”
Gov. Andre Kimbuta has now set up a commission in the Congo’s capital city to investigate the deadly incident. Meanwhile Lambert Mende, a government spokesperson, defended the police action by saying, “It is false to say that the violence was started by the tear gas, which was used to protect people being threatened by elements in the stands who were acting like militiamen.”
Home club AS Vita was trailing 1-0 during the game, which was the last of the 2013/14 campaign. When the fans stampeded it caused a recently restored gate and wall to collapse under the weight. This isn't the first time there has been trouble between these two clubs. Reports said sanctions were imposed last year following a match in Lubumbashi, which is the home city of the Mazembe team.
Just two weeks before this soccer tragedy in Kinshasa, over 20 people lost their lives in a stampede in the city of Kikwit in Congo, when the electricity went out in a stadium during a music festival.
"It is false to say that the violence was started by the tear gas"