ONE person died here yesterday when Warriors fans caused a stampede shortly before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifier against Congo.
All tickets for the clash against the Central Africans were pre-sold and the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) had asked fans to come in early to avoid congestion. Fans also had to use entry gates marked on their tickets and the concept of pre-sold ticket is relatively new to local football which created confusion.
Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyati said a woman passed away after sustaining injuries following a melee at one of the gates at the venue.
“Yes we can confirm that one person died when there was a stampede at the National Sports Stadium,” Nyathi said.
“What happened is that Zifa had pre-sold tickets for the game and the fans were allocated specific gates to enter the stadium.
“It is alleged that there was a glitch at Gate 3 with the scanners. When one entered the stadium, their ticket had to be scanned first.
“As a result, the people that were in the line were not amused by the delay caused by the scanners.
“It is alleged there was pushing and shoving resulting in one woman that was in front of the line getting injured.
“The woman was rushed to a nearby private hospital were she was pronounced dead. Police are currently investigating the incident.”
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said: “We have been informed on an unfortunate incident were a Warriors fan lost her life. Our condolences to the bereaved family and we will issue a full statement tomorrow (today).”
The stampede, however, did not stop the match from going ahead with Zimbabwe going on-to win 2-0 following first half goals from Khama Billiat and captain Knowledge Musona.
The result means Zimbabwe qualifies for the 2019 Afcon finals to be held in Egypt later this year from June 21 to July 19. In 2000, at least 13 people lost their lives at the same venue when police threw teargas during Zimbabwe’s 2002 Wolrd Cup qualifier against South Africa.
Bafana Bafana winger Delron Buckley celebrated by putting his finger over his mouth to hush the home crowd after he had extended the visitors’ lead to 2-0 in the dying stages of the match. Over a dozen people lost their lives on that day while hundreds were injured after stampedes ensued as people ran away from the teargas.