Stampede in tribute to late President Magufuli kills 45, Tanzanian police say

Tanzanian police announced on Tuesday that 45 people had died during a storm in Dar es Salaam on March 21 when mourners praised the last president John Magufuli.

The crushing took place when thousands of sad citizens tried to rush into a stadium in the city to say goodbye to Magufuli, whose sudden death after a mysterious absence was announced on March 17.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to enter the arena, and some were not patient. They tried to force themselves in and it resulted in a storm. Forty-five people died in the accident,” Dar es Salaam regional police chief Sade Lazaro Mambosasa told AFP.

Five of the dead were from the same family, Mambosasa said. A woman and four children were reportedly crushed in the accident at Uhuru Stadium, although the actual toll for storms was not announced at the time.

Mambosasa said several dozen were also injured in the crush, but most had been released from hospital.

Magufuli’s body was transported to Tanzania’s major cities of Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Zanzibar, Mwanza and Geita, before finally resting in its ancestral village of Chato, in the country’s northwest, on March 26.

Tens of thousands came out to praise their roads and cried and ran along the coffin while a military motorcade moved through the cities.

The stamping took place on the second day of tributes at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, when the public came in to celebrate.

No official data for Covid-19

Magufuli died at the age of 61 from what authorities say was a heart disease, after a mysterious absence of almost three weeks, and questions remain about the real cause of his death, which the opposition says was from Covid-19.

While Magufuli was praised for his fight against corruption and massive infrastructure projects, he was criticized for stifling democracy and striking with the media, civil society and the opposition.

His legacy is also damaged by his Covid denial, which saw Tanzania refuse to release information or take any action to limit the spread of the virus.

The devout Christian claimed that the faith had saved the country from Covid-19, fought for prayers over face masks and prevented virus figures from being published.

But in February, the cases rose so much that the church, schools and other public institutions openly warned of the spread of the virus.

“Coughing” minister confirmed as vice president

His deputy, Samia Suluhu Hassan, was sworn in as the country’s first female president and presided over the ceremonies.

Hassan has promised to “start where Magufuli left off” and all eyes are on potential changes in the country’s policy and openness regarding Covid-19.

On Tuesday, Tanzania’s parliament confirmed the appointment of Finance Minister Philip Isdor Mpango as the country’s vice president.

Mpango is an economist who has held various senior positions, including as a senior economist at the World Bank. He appeared in a video last month that coughed and mocked at a press conference outside a hospital to dispel rumors that he had died of Covid-19.

( Jowharwith AFP)