Children among five dead in ‘stampede’ to view body of Tanzania’s ex-president

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Children Among Five Dead In ‘Stampede’ To View Body Of Tanzania’s Ex-President
Members of the military carry the body of former president John Magufuli, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Tom Odula, Associated Press Reporter

Five people, including four children, have died in a suspected stampede during a public viewing of the body of former Tanzanian president John Magufuli.

The tragedy occurred as regional leaders joined Tanzanians to pay their last respects to the controversial leader.

Mr Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent Covid-19 sceptics and even though his government announced that he had died of a heart failure on Wednesday, opposition leaders and his critics charge that he died of complications from Covid-19.

Ten of thousands of Tanzanians came out to view Mr Magufuli’s body at Uhuru Stadium in the country’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, over the weekend.


Mourners queue to pay their respects (AP)

Suzan Mtua, 30, died with four school-age children from the same family when there was a stampede of people wanting to view the body on Sunday, said family spokesman Heri Mtua.

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“The children had demanded they also attend the funeral of president Magufuli,” he said. “Later that day we received a call late evening by an unknown person using Suzan’s phone.” The caller said that the owner of the phone had been taken to a hospital. But her body was eventually found at the morgue, he said.

The children were aged between seven and 12.

Hundreds of people who attended the funeral fainted in the crush and authorities said they will issue a statement on Tuesday about the number of people killed in the national event.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who was Mr Magufuli’s vice president and succeeded him, was joined by nine African heads of state on Monday for Mr Magufuli’s state funeral.


Members of the military parade with a portrait of former president John Magufuli (AP)

Among them were Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.

“We mourn the loss of our friend, our brother, a hard worker,” said Mr Kenyatta, chairman of the regional bloc East African Community.

“He showed us that, as Africans, we have the potential to liberate ourselves from dependence on foreigners. That we have potential as Africans to manage our economies and ensure that our people get justice,” he said.

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Mr Magufuli had been missing from public view since February 27, when he swore in a new chief secretary after his predecessor died with what many speculate was Covid-19. For days government officials denied he was ill, claiming he was busy and the president is not duty-bound to make public appearances.

Mr Magufuli will be buried on Friday.

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