Tanzania arrests preacher after stampede kills 20 at church service
London, Feb. 2, 2020(AltAfrica)-Twenty people have died and a dozen others were injured in a stampede during a church meeting in the northern Tanzanian city of Moshi, the government said Sunday.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the stampede, which took place on Saturday. But it occurred when church faithful were being ushered through an exit so that they could walk on “anointed oil,” according to a government spokesman.
Hundreds of worshippers were attending a prayer meeting led by Boniface Mwamposa, a popular preacher who leads the Arise and Shine Ministry Tanzania
Sources told Associated Press, AP that the stampede was caused by church faithful being ushered to pass through one exit at the meeting venue so they could walk on “anointed oil,” according to a statement by a government spokesman.
Tanzania’s Interior Minister George Simbachawene said Mwamposa had been arrested. Simbachawene said the government will review the associations act, with the intention of strengthening the requirements to register as a church.
He accused the church of not taking enough precautions and violating the terms of its permit for the meeting, which ran two hours later than planned.
“The incident took place at night and there were many people, so there is a possibility that more casualties could emerge,” he told Reuters.
A witness who was at the service, Peter Kilewo, told reporters that the scene was “horrible” and that people were “trampled on mercilessly, jostling each other with elbows.”
The police said they had begun an investigation.
There has been a rise in the number of pastors who claim they can perform “miracle cures” and eradicate poverty in Africa in recent years. Preachers who spread what they call the “prosperity gospel” have been involved in financial scams and money laundering schemes, as well as other stampedes.