Heartbroken family of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) stampede victim want to lay charges

Mandla Mpoko cried on Monday as he told the CRL Commission what his family had endured since the death of their mother, who is one of three women that died in a stampede at the Shepherd Bushiri-led Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church on December 28.

“We learnt about [the stampede] on 29 December. From that moment, it took until December 31 to locate the body of our mother. I went to the church on the 29th, I was taken to so many places. Finally, they said the bodies had been taken to a government mortuary,” Mpoko said.

He told of visits to various mortuaries and hospitals around Pretoria before the body of Matshila Sarah Mohlala was found at Redford Funeral Parlour.

“This was after the people at this church had told me that the deceased were in a government mortuary. Redford is not a governmental mortuary. It’s a private mortuary,” said Mpoko.

“For me, I want to open a case that looks at the concealment of death. These people, what they have done, by moving those bodies from the church to this private mortuary, they were concealing the death of these three people.” 

Mohlala, Patricia Pringane and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi died in the stampede and nine other congregants were injured. 

In the aftermath, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) led street protests at ECG, calling for the church to be expelled from the Pretoria show grounds.

Police are investigating the deaths and a case of defeating the ends of justice has been opened. This relates to the removal of the bodies from the church premises. 

On Monday, Sanco said Prophet Bushiri must pay at least R1 million each to the three families of the deceased congregants.  

“This commission needs to benchmark on the Justice Dikgang Moseneke commission regarding Life Esidimeni. He recommended that the families must not be compensated less than R1 million. That will be our benchmark,” said Sanco Greater Tshwane chairperson Abram Mashishi. 

Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said officials from the city of Tshwane would make representations to the commission on Tuesday. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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