HARARE - Zimbabwe has totally forgotten the victims and neglected the families affected by the National Sports Stadium disaster according to Temba Mliswa.
On July 9, 2000, 13 people lost their lives when police fired teargas into the crowd during the 2002 World Cup qualifier between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Today marks 15 years since the tragedy but just like the previous years, there have been no events organised to commemorate the day.
The crowd stampede was ignited after Bafana Bafana midfielder Delron Buckley scored his second goal to give the visitors a 2-0 lead eight minutes before the end.
Warriors fans were not pleased by the team’s performance and began throwing missiles onto the pitch which resulted in the police firing teargas to suppress the unrest.
A stampede followed as close to 40 000 fans inside the venue sought an escape from the teargas fumes.
Alec Fidesi, Eularia Made, T Makonese, Tawanda Gwanzura, Patrick Mpariwa, Killian Madondo, George Chin’anga, Sam Mavhuro, Enock Chimombe, Joyce Chimbamba, Benhilda Magadu, Ronald Kufakunesu and Tonderai Jeke lost their lives during the stampede.
The disaster to this day remains the biggest tragedy to strike Zimbabwean sport.
Mliswa together with former Nigerian international John Fashanu and British boxing promoter Ambrose Mendy were part of a Trust established to spearhead the fundraising and commemorative activities.
Mliswa sadly admitted that the trust and the rest of the country have forgotten about the 13 lives lost and their families.
“In my own opinion I believe we are all responsible for neglecting the families and the memories of the victims of the disaster,” he told the Daily News.
“I’m one of the people who were in the committee which was tasked to ensure that we keep on taking care of these families and the victims are remembered and I can safely say myself and the rest of the nation, we have failed these families.
“This is Zimbabwe and we have a habit of initiating things but there is no follow up to see that we have kept track of these families to see how they are coping.
“We need the whole of Zimbabwe; the government, corporate world and every individual to come on board to ensure the victims are remembered and their families are taken care of.’’
Mliswa added: “Fifteen years is such a huge milestone and as a nation this is something we should not easily forget. We were supposed to touch base with the families of the victims. Some of the victims were the breadwinners of their families and we need to work on giving them something which is sustainable.
“I know that all the families received a once-off compensation payment from Fifa but it is not enough.
“There was a suggestion that the two nations can play a friendly match every year to commemorate the disaster with the proceedings going to the families of the victims but nothing has been done.
“Obviously this was a model that we could have pursued to help raise funds for the families and we could have kept in touch with them.”
The former Hurungwe West legislator, who has a sporting background, said an inquest should have been held after the tragic accident.
“There are a lot of things that should have been done like setting up a commission of inquiry to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again,” he said.
“You can’t just keep quiet and say it won’t happen again when 13 people have lost their lives. It is the biggest sporting tragedy to have occurred in this country.
“Equally the commission would have found if there were any criminal elements responsible and they should have been brought to book.
“You have to give confidence to the public that we have learned from this disaster and it is safe for people to attend football matches again.”