Crowd threatens to become unruly over Independence Day food

Niël Terblancé

Alarge number of people attending the 33rd Independence celebrations at the Outapi Stadium became unruly when rumours about a shortage of food started spreading among the crowd.

It was reported that some of the attendees stormed the tents in which food for the Very Important Persons (VIPs) was kept. Some of the people went through slits on the sides of the tent to get to the food.

Others gathered at food trucks in which the food was carted to the venue and demanded that it be given to them.

In one case the organisers were forced to inform the people that the trucks will only be opened in the presence of the Namibian Police.

The situation, however, soon calm down and people started queuing in an orderly fashion to receive their food packs.

Dr Audrin Mathe, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, confirmed that some unruliness might have occurred.

“No real problems were, however, reported to us,” he said.

He said that the organisers of the Independence celebrations initially catered for 15 000 attendees, but that number grew to more 21 000 as the celebrations continued.

“That is why President Geingob ordered from the podium that the VIPs attending give up their food,” Mathe said.

At the end of his speech, the president said that there was bad news.

“As you can see the whole of Omusati has come and we don’t have enough food. Now I am ordering all VIPs to offer up their food so that everyone else can be fed,” the President said after delivering his keynote address

According to Mathe, organisers were forced to bring more than 5 000 cold drinks to the event when it was only halfway through.

“It was impossible to serve the more than 21 000 people and we had to take some extraordinary steps to at least supply them with something to drink,” Mathe said.

He said, in the end, that most of the people qued up in an orderly fashion and that they received food packs while others were able to eat the portions of the VIPs as the President ordered.

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