Court clears Ma­gaya

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Pa­trick Chi­tumba Mid­lands Bureau Chief

A KWEKWE coroner has cleared Prophetic Heal­ing and De­liv­ery (PHD) leader Prophet Wal­ter Ma­gaya, his church and the po­lice of any wrong­do­ing fol­low­ing the death of 11 peo­ple in a stam­pede at the end of a cru­sade at Mbizo Sta­dium in Kwekwe.

The in­quest started early this year fol­low­ing the stam­pede that also left 43 peo­ple in­jured in Novem­ber 2014 af­ter the cru­sade that was at­tended by about 30 000 peo­ple.

Af­ter the event, peo­ple tried to force their way out at the same time re­sult­ing in the tragedy.

The coroner, Mr Tau­rai Man­were said no one was to blame for the ac­ci­dent.

“There is ev­i­dence that the church didn’t end abruptly. Some peo­ple wanted to meet Prophet Ma­gaya and oth­ers were rush­ing for trans­port parked out­side the main gate to go home. The pres­sure caused by peo­ple who wanted to exit the sta­dium at the same time caused the stam­pede. This stam­pede was an ac­ci­dent and was un­avoid­able since it was not rea­son­ably fore­see­able that peo­ple in the sta­dium would get out of the sta­dium at the same time,” he said.

Ex­on­er­at­ing the po­lice, the coroner said from the ev­i­dence sub­mit­ted in court, it is clear that no tear gas was ever used by po­lice of­fi­cers in­side the sta­dium.

He said there was also no ev­i­dence to sub­stan­ti­ate claims that PHD se­cu­rity of­fi­cers or­dered peo­ple to leave the sta­dium us­ing small gates in order to con­duct a head count of peo­ple who at­tended the cru­sade.

“The ev­i­dence re­mains hearsay and was not con­firmed by wit­nesses who were in­volved in the stam­pede,” said Mr Man­were.

“From the ev­i­dence there are a num­ber of con­tra­dic­tions with re­gard to the cause of the stam­pede, the man­ner the cru­sade ended and whether or not the main gate was open or closed and the num­ber of gates that were be­ing used to en­ter or exit the sta­dium on the day in ques­tion. These con­tra­dic­tions make it dif­fi­cult for the court to make a find­ing on these is­sues.”

To avoid deaths of like na­ture in the fu­ture, Mr Man­were rec­om­mended that events that at­tract huge crowds must be con­ducted in an open space with suf­fi­cient ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

“If con­ducted in a sta­dium, mem­bers of the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice, sub­ject to the Po­lice Act or any other Act of Par­lia­ment must take charge of traf­fic con­trol, crowd con­trol and or­derly exit of peo­ple from the sta­dium,” he said.

Those who died in the stam­pede are Ian Nkomo (40), Ten­dekai Bafana (9), Ta­muka Chivasa (11), Win­nie Chikanda (12), Rachel Zvinei (16) Cyn­thia Jane Kat­sholo (47) and Juliet Mawere (55) all from Mbizo sub­urb in Kwekwe.

Al­bert Ndure (13) and Brid­get Mukarati (24) from Gweru as well as Grace Gwinji whose age was not given and Shadreck Kurebwa (59), also died. — @pchi­tumba1

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