South Africa-Religion-Apology

S/African church ‘sorry' for deadly stampede

APA-Pretoria (South Africa)

One of South Africa’s popular churches, the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) led by charismatic preacher Shepherd Bushiri, on Friday apologised to the nation for a stampede which killed three women members and injured others on 28 December in Pretoria.

"It is, and it was unimaginable to fathom that a church, our home, a place of peace, a place of worship, where people come to refuge, where people seek and receive salvation and eternal life, can be the scene of a disaster.

“We appreciate this and wish to also convey our condolences and unreserved apology. We are sorry," Maynard Manyowa, external media relations manager for the Malawi-born Bushiri told a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday.

He added: "We would like to convey the same messages of condolence and express our regret to members of our own family, our fellow brothers and sisters, congregants at the ECG church."

Three women were killed in the stampede during a service of worship four days before the end of 2018.

The deceased women were identified as Patricia Pringane, Matshila Sarah Mohlala and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi.

Nine other congregants were injured as they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm.

In the aftermath, the ECG has faced a barrage of attacks, particularly from the South Africa National Civic Organisation which has been protesting outside the Pretoria showground, which the church uses for its sermons, calling for the lease agreement to be revoked.

On Friday Manyowa reiterated that the ECG believes it had done nothing wrong during the fatal incident, triggered by a rainstorm which saw the gatherers pushing and showing each other as they sought shelter from the heavy rains.

"While we believe we did no wrong, our systems were well prepared, and that in the face of a pounding storm, itself a natural disaster for which there was nothing we could do, we want you to know that we are sorry, and we take full responsibility for the pain, sadness, anger, and grief this has caused," Manyowa said.

The ECG said apart from engaging the families of the deceased, it is cooperating with the South African Police Service in the charge of defeating the ends of justice opened in connection with the removal of the bodies after the stampede.


NM/as/APA

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