Former Asante Kotoko Board Chairman, Herbert Mensah continues to light the candle to remember victims and families of the May 9th soccer disaster 19 years now.
For victims alive and families left behind the day is one they look forward to for remembrance and assistance to go through life.
A midweek Ghana Premier League match between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium in 2001 ended 2-1 in favour of the Phobians and some fans dissatisfied with the level of officiating started ripping off chairs at the Ade Coker stand.
Security personnel on duty responded with the firing of tear gas into the crowd resulting in a stampede crushing to death 126 soccer fans.
A presidential commission of enquiry set by then President John Agyegum Kufuor administration recommended for the prosecution of six police officer for manslaughter.
They were however freed by the court for lack of credible evidence. But the memory of those who lost their lives that fateful day has been kept alive by former chairman of Kumasi Asante, Herbert Mensah who has made it a yearly ritual to honour them.
Through his benevolence, and support from GB foods, Sunda Ghana, Interplant and Ghana Rugby, food and financial support continue to be extended to some of the victims’ whiles some with serious injuries continues to receive medical care both in Ghana and abroad.
At his Osu residence, some of the victims and dependents were presented with various items to cushion them in life.
“Usually we will hold our traditional route march and draw attention to the day but because of the Coronavirus pandemic and government ban on social gathering, we held a small ceremony here to presents some of the victims’ food items, cash and in some cases wheelchairs to aid their movement and this we have done since 2002 and we will continue to honour them,” Mr Mensah told the media.
Despite the reality of the May 9th disaster, crowd violence in our stadia continues to be a concern. Mr Herbert Mensah says not much lessons have been learnt.
“Football is an emotional game but we have to be responsible and that why during my days at Kotoko I will hold hands with Harry Zarkhour of Hearts of Oak to draw attention to the fact that we are one despite our sporting affiliations but clearly lessons have not been learnt,” he said.
“I recall that fateful day, the smell of the tear gas, soccer fans crying and screaming for help, I remember carrying about 20 or 30 bodies, I saw the locked gate, the stampede and later at the 37 military hospital with the late Komla Dumor we counted about 97 dead bodies and if you wouldn’t want to be violent if you have been in such a situation,” he added.
Some of the recipients of the donation thanked Herbert Mensah for his continuous support.
“Mr Mensah has always been there for us, money, food, medical support and even support for our children always came from him and we are forever grateful,” one of them stressed.