Prophetic, Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Prophet Walter Magaya has provided US$1 000 each to the families of the 11 congregates who died after a stampede at his church’s crusade in Kwekwe on Thursday night.
Prophet Magaya also disbursed an undisclosed amount of money to 24 injured people who are receiving treatment at Kwekwe General Hospital.
Kwekwe City Council chipped in with US$100 to each of the families of the deceased, and waived burial fees for those who will be interred in the mining town.
Addressing journalists in Kwekwe on Friday night, Prophet Magaya said: “We do not blame anyone for the tragedy which claimed 11 lives after a stampede. We have learnt from this incident and we are going to improve in planning when we have such events in future. We want to express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families for their loss.”
Mr John Moyo, who lost his wife Cynthia Kacholo (40), said he felt the police were overwhelmed by the large numbers of people at the crusade.
“My wife died a very painful death. She was crushed to death when she was trying to escape from a rampaging crowd,” he added.
Ms Felistas Matizanadzo — whose nephew Tamika Chivasha (11) also died — said she was struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
“We only learnt of his death after we went to search for him at the hospital where we were told he had died in the stampede. I don’t even know how he died and I am in great pain.”
Meanwhile, Mr Fanuel Kanyoka who was quoted in initial reports after the stampede as PHD head of security, subsequently denied holding the position, saying he “was misquoted by the media”.
“I am not allowed to speak about the goings-on at PHD Ministries and I never blamed the police for the stampede at the crusade,” he said. PHD Ministries said police investigations would reveal what exactly happened on Thursday at the crusade that attracted an estimated 30 000 congregates.
The police officer commanding Midlands, Senior Assistant Commissioner Shadreck Mubaiwa said their tear gas cannisters were not to blame.
“There was a vendor using a gas stove to prepare fresh chips and selling them to congregates. When the people were leaving the stadium, it exploded after the owner failed to close the 20-litre gas tank and there was a popping sound which the congregants confused for teargas. The gas also left a strong smell which people could have easily confused for teargas,” he said.
The vendor, Mr Amos Muzeyiwa, confirmed his gas stove exploded.
“When I was closing the tank, I twisted the lid in the anti-clockwise direction instead of clockwise. The gas came out with a lot of pressure and there was a huge explosion …
“This however happened when the people had left the venue while some had already been injured. I was close to the gate but I did not see the police firing tear gas,” he said.
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