The peaceful Blantyre derby between Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers was yesterday spoiled by ugly scenes of violence from the most unexpected area—the VIP stand of the Kamuzu Stadium—where supporters of FAM aspiring presidential candidates incumbent Walter Nyamilandu and his vice-president James Mwenda clashed.
With the thrilling derby at 0-0 and both sides pushing for a goal, attention turned to the VIP in the 68th minute where the rivals broke into a brawl forcing innocent men, women and children who paid to watch the match from the comfort of the stand scampering for dear life as chairs flew all over as weapons.
It all started because one of Nyamilandu’s supporters Yona Malunga defied a Super League campaign material during matches.of Malawi (Sulom) ban on wearing
The Mwenda camp was not amused with the open defiance and demanded that the culprit, clad in a T-shirt emblazoned with Nyamilandu’s picture be removed from the VIP, resulting in the fracas.
Both Nyamilandu and Mwenda, who sat side-by-side, watched helplessly as the supporters clashed.
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said they will investigate the incident.
“We already issued a ban on all campaign material at matches because we knew it has a potential to incite violence.
“It is unfortunate that some of the supporters ended up into the stadium and, the VIP for that matter, while wearing the campaign T-shirt,” he said.
But Nyamilandu blamed Mwenda’s camp for the incident.
“My team has been a victim of intimidation and there is no way we can live in fear or fail to attend matches because of threats. We live in a free society where freedom of expression and association should be exercised freely. Campaign should not be intimidatory, aggressive, defamatory or provocative. There is need for mutual respect among candidates,” said Nyamilandu.
Mwenda also blamed the rival camp for defeying Sulom’s ban on campaign material at matches, saying this led to the violence.
He also condemned the incident saying it has potential of scaring people from football matches.
“Football is a unifying factor. Elections should not divide us. What happened must be condemned in strongest terms. It’s unfortunate that this happened at the VIP where people are expected to be exemplary,” he said.
After the match which ended goalless, Nyasa Big Bullets coach Callisto Pasuwa blamed his charges for failing to live up to expectation.
“We did not come to the party,” he said.
Wanderers assistant coach Oscar Kaunda rued missed chances after his side dominated the rivals in all departments but failed to score.
Wanderers still lead the table with 45 points while Bullets are second with 42 points but with a game in hand.
Civil Sporting Club who beat third placed Kamuzu Barracks 2-0 are fifth while Silver Strikers who were held to a 3-3 draw by Karonga United remain sixth.