Stam­pede vic­tim’s fam­ily want jus­tice

Sis­ter says she wasn’t no­ti­fied of sib­ling’s death

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - LER­ATO DIALE ler­[email protected]

“2019 is go­ing to be the best year ever. We are go­ing to be so rich.” These were the late Pa­tri­cia Pringane’s words to her em­ployer just be­fore she left Cape Town for a ser­vice at Malaw­ian pas­tor Shep­herd Bushiri’s En­light­ened Chris­tian Gath­er­ing Church in Pre­to­ria.

Pringane was a de­vout mem­ber who paid her 10% tithes to the church, and ap­par­ently also con­trib­uted a fur­ther R7 000 to the min­istry.

But the day when she would reap the re­wards wasn’t to be.

She passed away in what the church de­scribed as a stam­pede on De­cem­ber 28. Oth­ers sus­pected foul play.

Now her sis­ter, Osma Pringane, who was only no­ti­fied of the tragedy on Jan­uary 2, and found the body later in a gov­ern­ment mor­tu­ary, is de­mand­ing jus­tice.

“I un­der­stand fully that my sis­ter died in their hands, in their premises. The church never no­ti­fied me nor any fam­ily mem­ber that my sis­ter had passed away. I moved around all pub­lic hos­pi­tals un­til I landed at the po­lice sta­tion. The last was the mor­tu­ary, where I iden­ti­fied her body alone,” said Osma.

When the dis­traught sis­ter ap­proached the church for an­swers, the of­fi­cials al­legedly said she was be­ing dif­fi­cult. “Then, they told me that I must call them if I need help. I said I don’t think at the mo­ment I need help more than I need jus­tice. I need to know what hap­pened to my sis­ter be­cause she was a sole bread­win­ner. Two mi­nor boys are wait­ing for an­swers.

“I’m not after their money. I’m after jus­tice. It must pre­vail at the end of the day. This is the one and only per­son that I had in life. I thought she was go­ing to bury me, but to­day I’m go­ing around search­ing for her body,” said Osma.

Pringane’s em­ployer, Bene­dicte Bergman, is also not sat­is­fied with the pur­ported cir­cum­stances around her death. Pringane’s son had ear­lier found a note in­scribed: “Ma­jor One de­clared that within 40 days, God is gonna do what no­body can do for me, the last date is 28 Dec, the last Fri­day of the 2018.”

Bergman, who heard the news while on hol­i­day in Mau­ri­tius, vowed to get jus­tice for her for­mer em­ployee.

“I want jus­tice be­cause there are two young boys that Pa­tri­cia looked after, her grand­son with men­tal dis­abil­i­ties who at­tends a spe­cial school and an­other one she took over four months ago when his mother died.

“These two boys have a fu­ture ahead of them. I can­not fi­nan­cially take care of them for the rest of their lives. I can pay what is due to Pa­tri­cia if she was go­ing to re­tire from me,” she said.

Bergman said when she asked Pringane if she gave money to the church she de­nied it, say­ing Bushiri was a wealthy man who did not want her money. This de­spite a slip found in her be­long­ings with an amount of R7 000 that is seem­ingly made out to the church.

“She jumped from TB Joshua’s church. She was very rad­i­cal when it came to these kinds of re­li­gion/be­liefs, and it was all based on pros­per­ity and money. In the last few months she was very con­cerned about mak­ing money. She started play­ing the lot­tery which she ini­tially thought was the devil.

“I feel like she knew some­thing; some­one had told her some­thing. She wouldn’t have writ­ten that in her room for noth­ing,” Bergman said.

Mean­while, the church’s lawyer and spokesper­son, Ter­rence Baloyi, de­nied the church was do­ing a cover-up over the cir­cum­stances of Pringane’s death, say­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way while the po­lice were also in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Baloyi de­nied that proper by-laws govern­ing big gath­er­ings were not fol­lowed, adding that there had been nu­mer­ous meet­ings with the city coun­cil in prepa­ra­tion for the event.

“The event wouldn’t have gone ahead if we were not abid­ing by those laws. We nor­mally do our re­port or sub­mis­sion to them be­fore pro­ceed­ing with the event. Oth­er­wise, I be­lieve we would have been stopped a long time ago,” he said.

Baloyi also hit out at a com­mu­nity protest out­side the church on Fri­day, say­ing it was mo­ti­vated by xeno­pho­bia.

He said Bushiri was con­cerned by the in­ci­dent which took place at the church and has com­mu­ni­cated his con­cern.

Po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Au­gusti­nah Selepe said in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the in­ci­dent were on­go­ing.

“A docket of in­quest is open for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A case of de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice was opened based on the fact that the po­lice were not in­formed of the in­ci­dent,” said Selepe.

BON­GANI SHILUBANE African News Agency (ANA)

PO­LICE of­fi­cers in con­ver­sa­tion with con­cerned res­i­dents dur­ing their protest against Prophet Shep­herd Bushiri’s church in Pre­to­ria West fol­low­ing a stam­pede that claimed the lives of three peo­ple on De­cem­ber 28. |

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