Police beat us back:Shock Magaya stampede testimony

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By Patrick Chitumba

A REDCLIFF woman who lost her sister at Prophet Walter Magaya’s PHD Ministries crusade in the town in 2014 yesterday broke down in court during an inquest for the 11 people who died.

the precast wall which was brought down by the congregants after police allegedly blocked the exit points. (Pic by Munyaradzi Musiiwa)
The precast wall which was brought down by the congregants after police allegedly blocked the exit points. (Pic by Munyaradzi Musiiwa)

Netsai Gwinji told the coroner Taurai Manwere that Prophet Magaya had just finished his sermon when thousands of people sought to leave Mbizo Stadium and were assaulted by the police, resulting in the stampede.

Gwinji said her sister, who was 35-years-old at the time, fell to the ground and was trampled upon by people who wanted to exit the stadium at around 11PM.

She was addressing the court as a member of the public following Amos Munzeiwa’s testimony.

Munzeiwa, from Harare, was in the stadium selling various food items when the stampede happened.

Initial reports suggested that Munzeiwa’s gas stove tank exploded, triggering commotion, but yesterday he dismissed the claims.

“The church ushers and the police in a way both contributed to the stampede. I met a police officer who said the gate was locked and was looking for a fellow officer with the keys.

“At the same time the police and the ushers didn’t coordinate together for smooth movement of people. I walked to the gate and saw it closed and I saw a stampede away from the gate,” said Munzeiwa.

Munzeiwa said while it had been reported that it was his gas stove tank that blew up resulting in people panicking, that was false.

“My gas tank didn’t explode as what the people are saying and I only went to the gate to check if it was open since people were crowding my tent and I was worried about the stuff we were selling,” he said.

Gwinji said after Prophet Magaya finished his sermon, she and her sister walked towards the gate and were pushed back by the police.

“We were 30 metres from the gate when the police asked us to turn back. I saw police officers raising baton sticks hitting people in front of us, asking us to move backwards. We couldn’t, since other people were pushing us towards the gate. I saw my sister fall and trampled by people who wanted to leave the stadium,” said Gwinji, in tears.

She said before she knew it, her sister was covered in blood and was no longer breathing.

Gwinji said some suspected drunkards outside the stadium broke the precast wall to create escape routes for trapped people.

The inquest continues on May 17. The Chronicle


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