The South African Police Service has opened investigation into the death of three congregants who were killed on Friday during a stampede at Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church in Cape Town.
Prophet Bushiri confirmed the accident through his personal attorney and ECG’s legal representative, Terence Baloyi, in an interview with South African media that the stampede indeed occurred.
Baloyi said the stampede happened when an unexpected severe thunderstorm hit Pretoria and caught off-guard the people who assembled at the Tshwane Events Centre show grounds on Friday night for a church service.
But the South African Police says it’s investigating the incident which has killed three women and left 9 other congregant seriously injured.
“An inquest has been opened for investigation. Anyone with a missing person believed to have attended the church service should visit the Pretoria West police station. The injured people were taken to Kalafong Hospital and Pretoria West Hospital. The three deceased were taken to a funeral parlour,” said Pretoria police spokesperson Captain Augustinah Selepe.
She said the three victims had not yet been identified and that the exact cause of the incident was yet to be ascertained.
“According to them, [ECG] when the rain started [on Friday evening] the congregation started to push each other and a stampede occurred, unfortunately leading to three deaths and nine injuries,”
Selepe also confirmed that investigators visited some of the victims of the stampede admitted to various hospitals on Sunday afternoon and that a police delegation led by SAPS Tshwane West policing cluster commander Maj-Gen Daniel Mthombeni also visited the Pretoria Showgrounds – where the church is situated and where the stampede happened – on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the South African police have called on the general public to report any person who is missing as a result of the stampede.
“We urge people who actually know that their family members might have attended the church service to go and visit Pretoria west police station so that they can be assisted.” said Captain Selepe.
ECG church members have been left reeling following the accident. Bushiri is one of the most followed prophets in Africa, drawing in hundreds of thousand followers.