FAMILIES of the 1993 Gab0n air disaster have bemoaned the poor state of the Heroes Acre which they say does not depict the proper resting place of the perished gallant Zambian soccer heroes.
According to their representative Martin Mutale in Lusaka yesterday, the families will meet to discuss how they can have meaningful yearly commemorations and maintenance of the burial site.
“The burial site is cleaned only when it is nearing the commemoration time but a few months later it’s not a desirable site depicting the fallen heroes, “he said.
Speaking during the 22nd commemoration of the air disaster, Mr Mutale said the families will continue to celebrate the lives of their loved ones yearly and not as agreed with Government or Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to observe the event once every five years. Yesterday marked 22 years since the Zambia Air force plane carrying 30 passengers, with 18 players, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean soon after taking off in Libreville, a kilometre from the Gabonese coast, killing all the people on board.
The families and football fans yesterday converged at Heroes Acres in Lusaka led by Zambia Soccer Fans Association chairperson Peter Makembo and the brass band.
Mutale’s brother, Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale, a striker died in the crash.
“We will hold a big commemoration of our loved ones yearly. As for the five years issue by FAZ and Government, it’s not a concern to us because we don’t even know whom they agreed with” Mutale said.
In 2013, FAZ and Government decided that it would commemorate the event once every five years which decision apparently angered the families of team.
He however said the families will engage Government, FAZ and the corporate world to see how best the idea could be achieved.
Meanwhile, FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya who laid a wreath, advised young players to emulate the fighting spirit and patriotism of these heroes.
Bwalya said Zambia’s football history will never be the same and hoped the story of the gallant heroes will be passed on to the next generation.
Those who perished in the Gabon disaster were the plane’s crew, Colonel Fenton M’hone (pilot), Lt Colonel Victor Mubanga (pilot), Lt Colonel James Sachika (pilot), Warrant Officer Edward Nambote (fitter) and Corporal Tomson Sakala (steward)
Footballers were Efford Chabala (goalkeeper), John Soko (defender),Whiteson Changwe (defender), Robert Watiyakeni (defender), Eston Mulenga (defender), Derby Makinka (midfielder), Moses Chikwalakwala (midfielder), Wisdom Mumba Chansa (midfielder) Kelvin “Malaza” Mutale (striker), Timothy Mwitwa (striker), Numba Mwila (midfielder), Richard Mwanza (goalkeeper), Samuel Chomba (defender), Moses Masuwa (striker), Kenan Simambe (defender), Godfrey Kangwa (midfielder) Winter Mumba (defender) and Patrick “Bomber” Banda (striker)
Coaching staff had Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu (coach),Alex Chola (assistant coach),Wilson Mtonga (doctor)and Wilson Sakala
Others were, Michael Mwape (FAZ Chairman), Nelson Zimba (public servant) and Joseph Bwalya Salim (journalist).