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Home » News » Weekend Life » GIMC: The mayhem explained

GIMC: The mayhem explained

Publishing Date : 11 September, 2017

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The much anticipated and extolled Gaborone International Music and Culture (GIMC) week ended on a sad note following a stampede that claimed a life last Saturday night. The unfortunate event has since led to social commentators doubting logistical aspects of the show, accusing the organizers of poor planning and profiteering; STAFF WRITER DAVE BAAITSE explores the misfortune.

Since inception, the GIMC festival has received rave reviews, and was quickly elevated to be among Africa’s Top 10 events to attend in a short time. Arguably this year’s biggest music festival yet, the GIMC 4th edition had lined up crowd pullers in the likes of Mafikizolo, Cassper Nyovest, Ricky Rick and Nollywood star John Okorafor, AKA Mr Ibu.

Only 11 000 tickets were printed

On the day of the event, some were still being sold at the gate, and throngs of people had descended to the city centre, with full hopes of being among the few to dance the night away with fellow night crawlers. What followed next would lead to tragedy-the loss of a young life, 20 year-old Nametso Bogopa who was confirmed to be a third year University of Botswana (UB) student.


When this reporter arrived at the national stadium at exactly 2230 HRS Saturday night, many people were still loitering outside the stadium despite the event continuing inside. Cars were jammed outside, and despite my “All Access” pass, I was denied parking space inside the stadium as police officers said there was no parking. I was forced to navigate the traffic, eventually ending up down the road near the UB main gate.  On making my way into the stadium, what I instantly picked was that the bulk of the youngsters swarming the gates could not be let through because they had no tickets. Thirty minutes later, I managed to make my way through the crowds and into the stadium.       

What transpired during the night?

The over 7 000 revellers waiting outside the stadium had been informed much earlier that evening, at 1930 HRS that the event tickets were sold out. But they disappointedly stuck around, demanding to be let in. Meanwhile, inside the stadium sounds of ‘Khiring Khiring Khorong Khorong’ thumped on, more reason for them to be aggravated and push to be let in.

Hours later, the disappointed fans could still not take ‘NO’ for an answer, they were now more violent, and more security was called in as a risk intervention measure. However, the crowd managed to break one of the gates, flooding in to the stadium and in the event caused the stampede that claimed young Bogopa’s life. Following the crowd having broken in to the stadium, more gates were opened to control the situation and prevent further rowdiness however; this led to difficulty in controlling the crowds inside the stadium as crowd control barricades were also bypassed by the crowds.  

Security question  

The organisers are adamant that the security implored for the night was sufficient for the 11 000 attendants they expected. They concede they could have targeted a larger number and that the 7 000 plus outside the stadium were what threw them off and made the situation difficult to control.

A brief interview with event organizer Fish Pabalinga of LeapFrog Advertising this week revealed that a private security services company was engaged with 300 hundred bouncers and security guards, 12 men mounted on horse backs as well as 10 security dogs that patrolled the area inside and outside until morning. Pabalinga said at the beginning of the festival about 50 police officers were controlling the situation and that during the night more police officers were called in to assist.

Emergency assist   

The question of health is a very critical one thus every year the event organisers make sure they provide emergency assist to take care of every health situation that may arise. A total of two ambulances were seen packed at the VIP area with a number of medics who were on call. “This clearly means safety measures are always in place; the stampede and loss of life was an unfortunate incident,” said Pabalinga.

The national stadium has a carrying capacity of approximately 22 thousand, this is for when people are seated at the stands. With close to 18 thousand people occupying the pitch area and only a few on the stands, the place was overcrowded. “In that case even if we have had excess security, they were still bound to fail because of the numbers. The behaviour was unbecoming and that was never our plan. They invaded the stadium and in the process hurt themselves,” said Pabalinga who could not discuss further the ordeal as he said he was still emotionally struck by the occurrence.  

Besides the stampede, a number of criminal activities were also reported where people were pick-pocketed and others beaten for no apparent reason, something Pabalinga highly condemned. He has called for the perpetrators to be brought to book and called on the perpetrators to be called to book. He promises that they have learnt from the unfortunate events at this year’s GIMC and will use the lesson to stage an even better event next year.

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