|15 year old schoolboy and guard die in sugar stampede
By Tererai Karimakwenda
16 August, 2007
The shortages of basic food items created by the government’s ongoing price control exercise have cost two people their lives in Bulawayo. On Wednesday a huge crowd stampeded into a shopping complex where some sugar had been delivered and in the chaos a 15year old boy and a 35year old security guard died. The government’s Chronicle newspaper confirmed the tragic incident in a report Thursday, saying the stampede was “caused by hordes of people who were intending to buy sugar at Entumbane Shopping Complex in Bulawayo.” The guard died on the spot and the schoolboy died later at a local hospital.
Our Bulawayo contact Zenzele said a long winding queue had formed at the OK supermarket and about 20 riot police were present to control the crowds. Zenzele spoke to several witnesses who said the security guard opened a gate to let the shoppers in, and they pushed forward and knocked over a brick wall. The boy is reported to have tried climbing over and wound up under the bricks as the wall fell over. The witnesses said the victims did not get help immediately.
According to The Chronicle, the schoolboy was a Form Two pupil at Sobukhazi High School in Mzilikazi. He died at Mpilo Central Hospital after fracturing both legs and an arm. The security guard did not stand a chance. The report said he tried running as the wall fell toward him but was not fast enough. Several people were injured, and some with minor injuries were carried home by relatives.
The paper said Bulawayo police spokesman Assistant Inspector David Nyathi, appealed to residents to queue in an orderly manner. He said there are often vulnerable people including children, the elderly and the physically handicapped in the queues. Zenzele said the police who are supposed to control the queues usually compete for the scarce food products as well.
Zenzele said long queues and the presence of armed police are a common sight these days. He told us the TM Supermarket at Hyde Park had a similar queue Thursday morning. And people have also had to queue for water when bowsers come. He described the mood as “depressing” and said the recent shortage of beer is also affecting people. Shelves in the shops have been empty for weeks now after the government initiated price reductions that led to panic buying, hoarding and looting by officials.