Music promoter Abtex arrested over Freedom City Mall stampede

Music promoter Abtex arrested over Freedom City Mall stampede
At least ten people were killed during a crowd surge at Freedom City Mall in Kampala during New Year's Eve festivities

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Police have arrested music promoter, Abbey Musinguzi of Abtex Promotions for organising the ‘party after party’ event at the Freedom City Mall in which at least 10 people were crushed to death on New Year’s Eve.

Abtex is accused of allowing juveniles into an adult concert. Preliminary findings reveal that more than 500 revellers were attending the concert at the time of the stampede which happened after the MC reportedly asked the packed crowd to move out to witness the fireworks display at the parking yard.

According to the police, the crowd went berserk forcing their way through a narrow passage into the parking yard yet four other exit routes were locked by the organizers to keep away non-ticketed partygoers or intruders. Several revellers were then trapped and trampled upon through the narrow corridor.

The deceased include Margaret Nakatumba, 29, Mary Namyalo, 14, Daniel Kibuka, 14, Hadijja Nakakande, Viola Nakanwagi, 11-year-old Ibrahim Kizito, Hadijja Nakimati, and Shafiq Mwanje. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga says that a body of a 16-year-old male juvenile who died at an unnamed private clinic where he was rushed for emergency treatment remains unidentified at the City mortuary.

The revellers before the stampede at Freedom City Mall

Enanga said that specialist teams from the criminal intelligence investigations department including forensics, counter-terrorism and crime intelligence are still investigating the Freedom City Mall tragedy to determine if the show organizers complied with the security, health and crowd control measures. He was addressing journalists at the police headquarters in Naguru on Monday 2, January 2023. 

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Enanga said children aged below 18 are not permitted to attend adult concerts although those aged 13 and above, he said, can attend if accompanied by adults.

The end-of-year 2022 celebrations were spread out in more than 3,000 venues approved by the police which included 1,618 fireworks display sites across the country. It was the first time Ugandans freely partied after two years of global COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.