Eleven people were killed in a stampede at a packed concert headlined by African music star Fally Ipupa at the biggest stadium in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, the country’s interior minister has said.
Interior Minister Daniel Aselo Okito on Sunday blamed the organisers for the deaths, saying the Martyrs’ stadium concert in Kinshasa “went beyond 100 percent capacity”.
The stadium was packed beyond its capacity of 80,000 and some of the crowd ended up forcing their way into the VIP and reserved sections, reporters of Reuters news agency at the concert said.
“Eleven people dead … including two police,” the minister told reporters at the stadium, sending condolences to relatives of the casualties.
He said he deplored the “loss of human life” and said the organisers “must be punished”.
Security forces had earlier fired tear gas to disperse violent crowds in the streets outside the stadium where many had gathered before the concert by Kinshasa-born Ipupa.
The 44-year-old is one of Africa’s leading musicians whose albums sell worldwide.
Singer-songwriter Ipupa, “like all Congolese singers”, had arrived several hours after the show had been scheduled to start, the agency noted.
The eventual number of attendees inside the stadium vastly exceeded the number of state and private security personnel present could control.
In 2020, French police evacuated the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris after people started fires nearby in unrest before a planned Ipupa concert.
“It was a stampede,” that caused the deaths, a policeman on the scene told the official Congolese Press Agency ACP.
“The music lovers suffocated.”
Kinshasa police chief General Sylvain Sasongo had earlier told ACP nine people had died, amid reports the venue had been jammed with people for the local favourite’s performance, with one witness saying “even the corridors” of the stadium were overflowing.
ACP, which had reporters in the stadium covering the concert, said police had cordoned off three areas to secure the pitch, the VIP stand and the stage.
“Under the pressure of the crowd, the police could not hold out long,” ACP said.