Compensation ‘can’t replace my father’, says relative of Olembe Stadium

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The Olembe Stadium held the Nations Cup opening ceremony and is due to host the tournament's final on 6 February
The Olembe Stadium held the Nations Cup opening ceremony and is due to host the tournament’s final on 6 February

A relative of one of those killed in the Olembe Stadium crush during the Africa Cup of Nations has said the compensation his family has received can never make up for their loss.

Last week, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya announced that money would be distributed to those affected by the tragedy, which occurred in Yaounde on 24 January.

Relatives of the eight people who died have each been allocated 10m Central African Francs ($17,042) from a compensation fund of CFA 84.7m ($143,000).

“CFA 10m can’t replace my father,” one victim’s son, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC.

“I think it is better than nothing. I haven’t yet taken the money because we buried him during the weekend.

“I am expecting to take the money this week.”

Two children, aged eight and 14, were among the fatalities while a further 47 people were injured – seven of them seriously – outside the stadium during a Nations Cup between hosts Cameroon and Comoros.

A stampede occurred after a gate to the stadium’s main southern entrance, which had been closed, was opened after a heavy build-up of spectators outside, prompting those at the front to be trampled as the crowd swarmed forward.

A Nations Cup quarter-final due to be played at Olembe Stadium was moved following the incident, but the 60,000-capacity stadium was kept as the venue for a semi-final and the tournament’s final.

“We are still traumatised by our nephew’s death,” another unnamed relative told BBC Sport Africa. “We aren’t expecting more because money will not bring back our child.”

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Those injured in last month’s crush have been granted CFA 100,000 ($170) each, a figure one victim described as “fair”.

The seven people who were seriously injured in the crush – all of whom have now recovered – had their hospital bills covered by the Cameroonian government, and any future medical care for the 47 injured will reportedly still be free.

“I think it’s fair because I am still alive,” a man who was caught in the incident said of the money allocated by the government.

“I feel pains in my abdomen since the crush. The governor told us health care will still be free for us. If we feel bad, we can go to a public hospital and be taken on charge free.”

When discussing the incident last month, Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe said he was unprepared to share the reason the gate had been shut, saying it still troubled him.

“The fatalities happened where a gate which was supposed to be open,” said the South African.

“It’s something I have problems understanding and I don’t want to tell you why I’m told they locked it.”

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