Harare- Zimbabwe (PANA) -- Zimbabwe police Tuesday admitted to causing a stampede which killed 13 fans during a Zimbabwe-South Africa World Cup qualifying match in 2000.
Police commander Brian Chipembe told an inquest into the fatal stampede that his officer's negligent use of teargas aggravated simmering discontent by local fans after the visitors took a 2-0 lead.
The 13 fans died after others trying to escape from the teargas that had engulfed the Harare National Sports Stadium trampled them.
"Yes, I accept that the teargas could have caused the deaths of the fans.
I was disturbed and deeply worried why they (police) had to do it," Chipembe, who was in charge of police at the stadium, told the inquest.
The death of the 13 fans is the worst sports-related tragedy to have hit Zimbabwe, and has been probed a number of times by police and other investigating state agencies.
Chipembe said police did not check whether there were enough exit points for the fans before they fired the teargas.
"As the person in charge, I tried to call the officers to stop discharging the teargas but I failed.
Even the first canister thrown was of concern to me," he said.
"I also admit that we used teargas without checking whether there were enough escape routes.
That could have been an anomaly the police could have overseen.
We are sorry," he added.
The world soccer governing body FIFA temporarily banned Zimbabwe as a venue for international soccer matches after the tragedy.
The ban has since been lifted.