Relatives identify Zim stampede victims

By Drum Digital
21 November 2014

Relatives were helping the police identify the victims of a church stampede in Zimbabwe's central mining town of Kwekwe on Friday, the state ZBC radio reported.

Relatives were helping the police identify the victims of a church stampede in Zimbabwe's central mining town of Kwekwe on Friday, the state ZBC radio reported.  Eleven people were known to have been killed and at least 40 injured in the stampede, which occurred as a crowd of about 15,000 tried to leave the Mbizo Stadium at 2am.

A pregnant woman and three children are among the dead. Church officials fear the toll may rise.

State radio said the police fired teargas into the crowd, but this has not been confirmed. Initial reports were that the police blocked all but one exit to the stadium.

"Police closed all access, causing around 15,000 congregants to use only one exit point," ZBC radio reported.

"To relieve pressure mounting at the exit point, congregants forced down the precast wall on the western side of the stadium."

Pictures posted on social media Friday morning showed the stadium's collapsed perimeter wall of the stadium.

Walter Magaya, the head of the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries, told the Zimbabwean tabloid H-Metro: "I am gutted. I had already left the venue when I got news that there was a commotion... Within minutes I was told that eight people had died.

"I rushed back to the venue and it was very sad, the saddest moment of my life. As of this morning I am made to understand that three more died," Magaya said.

Zenzele Ndebele, the head of the independent Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo said in a tweet: "I don't understand why police will block exits and then throw teargas on innocent people."

This is the second incident in less than a month allegedly involving police firing teargas at crowds in an enclosed space. A number of people were reported injured at a dancehall competition in Harare on November 8 when police fired teargas to disperse fans of two rival dance artists.

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