Fifteen- year-old Raphael Nkhoma was not only a Nyasa Big Bullets’ die-hard but also an aspiring defender for the People’s Team.
But that dream was washed away in blood and tears on Sunday. He was ran over by car at Kameza Round-about in Blantyre during the team’s parade of the Carlsberg Cup triumph they had the previous day after beating Be Forward Wanderers 5-3 on post-match penalties in Lilongwe.
So, when Bullets fans and football authorities throng Pule Village, T/A Kapeni to bury the remains of the Blantyre Rural Team’s right-back, who used to play in the Fifa-Fam Under-16 League, questions will be asked on the enforcement of security during the parade.
Nkhoma, who was schooling at Ngumbe Primary School, was so overcome with joy he left home to join Bullets’ parade after they had defeated the rivals at Bingu National Stadium.
Bullets’ bus was snaking its way from Lilongwe when, upon arrival at Kameza, Nkhoma climbed into a truck. Moments later, the driver pulled to a sudden stop, Nkhoma was thrown off the truck only for the worst to happen—another speeding car—a one-tonne lorry—run over him.
Eye witnesses could not look at the sight of the accident twice as this Bullets’ ardent fan was crushed to pulp—with that Bullets’ parade was suspended. Suddenly, joy paved for the inevitable tears.
Team-mate for Nkhoma, Erick Nala and Blantyre Rural Team’s assistant Coach, Mario Gadaga, who were not on the scene of the tragedy, were so shocked with the sad news.
“He was a right-back who played with discipline and passion. He used to say that his dream was to play for Bullets one day and he was just 15…so sad he will never realise his dream,” Gadaga said.
Burial is scheduled for today in Ngumbe, but Nala, is yet to accept the harsh reality that his team-mate is gone.
“On this day, he was supposed to feature in a friendly game for our team, but he didn’t as he went out on an errand, only to learn that he was dead,” said Nala, his voice breaking.
An eye witness, Zaki Bokosi, who is also a Bullets supporter, said the fans had lined up the street waiting for the shuttle that players boarded.
“However, some overzealous supporters were marching on the streets and others were climbing [boarding] pick-ups at the back. The deceased fell from the truck and the one-tonne lorry run over him. It was a sorry sight as the head was smashed,” he said.
Bullets Supporters Committee Chairperson, Stone Mwamadi, said they called off the parade in honour of the fan.
“At that moment, it also became clear that we could not proceed with the parade using Chirimba-Mbayani road but divert to Magalasi,” he said.
Bullets interim General Secretary, Albert Chigoga, said they were shocked by the death.
“As a club, once we get details from the police, we will try to attend the funeral to show our solidarity,” said Chigoga whose team has since provided transport and a coffin for the burial, according to Gadaga.
Chileka Police Public Relations Officer, Grace Mwale, Monday said they were investigating the accident, which comes months after seven children were crushed to death in a stampede that happened on July 6 before Bullets’ match against Silver Strikers at the same Bingu Stadium.
For Nkhoma, his dream of playing for Bullets is shattered.