Arusha — STAMPEDE ensued at a well attended political rally being addressed by Arusha Urban Member of Parliament, Mr Godbless Lema, at Kilombero Grounds in Levolosi area over the weekend following rumours about a bomb in the area.
In their bid to escape from the congested grounds, hundreds of people who had turned out to listen to the politician suffered minor injuries as they stumbled and fell on each other when some people shouted 'Bomb!' at the venue, before taking to their heels.
It was by sheer luck that people weren't hit by cars, whose drivers also chose to take off at high speed fearing the worse from the chaotic development, which was fuelled by the sight of police officers who were dispatched to maintain security at the rally but were seen to be in hot pursuit of something.
However, it later turned out that the policemen were chasing a suspected pickpocket who was spotted stealing cellphones from some people who were tightly squeezed together.
Rallies organised by the opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) here have of late been exploited by hooligans who take advantage of the large crowds to steal from unsuspecting attendees.
The MP looked shocked by the development after he was abandoned and left alone on the platform by party officials who were occupying VIP seats but had rushed off when the bomb alarm was raised.
Eventually, Mr Lema managed to calm the situation by using the loudspeakers to assure those fleeing that there was no bomb, but rather the police were chasing pickpockets.
Despite the assurance, the number of people who returned to hear what the firebrand lawmaker had to say was only a fraction of the audience before the bomb scare.
The outspoken MP used much of his time to convince local residents to oppose the two-tier government union and support the opposition's touted three-government union.