45 died in stampede to see ex-president’s body in Tanzania

A wall collapsed as mourners tried to see John Magufuli’s body at Uhuru stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania Magufuli
Tanzania Magufuli

Forty-five people died in a stampede in Tanzania last week during a public viewing of the body of late president John Magufuli before he was buried, police have said.

Mr Magufuli was revered by many in Tanzania for his pugnacious style of leadership and his campaign against corruption, although opposition leaders criticised him for his scepticism of the Covid-19 pandemic and repressive policies.

He was also criticised by some African and international health experts for discouraging the use of face masks, vaccinations and other measures to combat the spread of the disease.

In efforts to view his body at Uhuru stadium in Dar es Salaam, some people climbed a wall which collapsed, causing a stampede in which people were killed, the city’s police chief Lazaro Mambosasa said.

Mourners queue to pay their respects
Mourners queue to pay their respects (AP)

Mr Magufuli was given a hero’s burial in which his coffin was lowered into the ground on Friday by military generals followed by a 21-gun salute in Chato, his home town in the country’s north west.

He was one of Africa’s most prominent Covid-19 sceptics. Even though his government announced on March 17 that he had died of heart failure, opposition leaders claim he died of complications from Covid-19.

He claimed last year that three days of national prayer had eradicated Covid-19 from Tanzania and discouraged residents from wearing face masks and getting vaccines.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the former vice president who succeeded Mr Magufuli to become Tanzania’s first female president, has nominated finance minister Philip Mpango to be her vice president. Her nomination was unanimously endorsed by parliament.

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