Prophet Bushiri's church pushes ahead with New Year's Eve service, despite fatal stampede

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri's Enlightened Christian Gathering Church is pushing ahead with its "Crossover Night" New Year's Eve event, despite the stampede that claimed the lives of three women in Pretoria on Friday night.

The church said that arrangements for Monday night's event were in the final stages.

Police, meanwhile, have been unable to identify the three women who died, and they have appealed for assistance in finding their next of kin.

Police spokesperson Captain Augustinah Selepe told News24 on Monday that the attempted identification of the three women had started at 10:00.

"Those who were injured were discharged and there are only two people left in hospital," she said.

Selepe previously said that the police had only heard about the stampede on Saturday afternoon, and that officers were immediately dispatched to the scene.

The church is situated at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria.

According to Selepe, the police believe that a thunderstorm prompted members of the congregation to push each other around during the church service, leading to the stampede.

READ: 3 dead, 9 injured following stampede at Prophet Bushiri's church in Pretoria

The service began around 20:00 on Friday.

Meanwhile Bushiri's lawyer, Terrance Baloyi of Baloyi Ntsako Attorneys, earlier told News24 that those who were injured had been transported from hospital and provided with accommodation and catering.

"As we speak, those who are remaining are about 10... we gave them accommodation at Pretoria Protea Hotel," he said.

Baloyi also told News24 that preparations for the church's New Year's Eve event at the Pretoria showground were in the final stages.

"We have added two major halls that we feel will cater for enough people. We have beefed up security – they are known as marshals – and we trained more than 2 000 so far," he said.

Baloyi had earlier told News24 that the stampede occurred when people tried to take shelter inside the church during a thunderstorm.

He said some people had panicked and he said that three people had been knocked unconscious.

"We regret the incident as a church because it happened within our premises," Baloyi said.

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