Thwane - The South African Police Service on Monday opened a case of defeating the ends of justice against Shepherd Bushiri's Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church following the death of three congregants in a reported stampede.
"The case of defeating the ends of justice is opened at the Pretoria West SAPS following the stampede which happened on the 28th of December, at Bushiri's church, Enlightened Christian Church Gathering (ECG)," Pretoria police spokeswoman Captain Augustinah Selepe told African News Agency (ANA).
"The charge is laid, based on the fact that police have established that the victims were certified dead at the church premises, the incident was not reported to the police, and the bodies were removed and taken to a private mortuary - Red Ford Mortuary."
Selepe said the charges were the result of the ongoing SAPS inquest into the death of three "African females" and the injury of at least nine other congregants during what has been described as a "stampede to get into the church" by ECG.
On Saturday afternoon, Pretoria police, led by SAPS Tshwane West policing cluster commander Major-General Daniel Mthombeni visited the Pretoria Showgrounds - where the church is situated - shortly after learning about the alleged fatal stampede.
"According to them, [ECG] when the rain started [on Friday evening] the congregation started to push each other and a stampede occurred, unfortunately leading to three deaths and nine injuries," said Selepe at the time.
She said the three victims had not yet been identified. The exact cause of the incident was yet to be ascertained.
The injured congregants were taken to Kalafong Hospital and Pretoria West Hospital.
Charles Mabaso of Tshwane emergency services said a distress call was received before 8 pm on Friday, alerting the emergency services about 12 injured congregants.
"We received a call with a claim that there were about 12 people that got injured. We dispatched three ambulances, but upon arrival, the ambulances found that there was one patient with moderate injuries. The patient was treated on [the] scene and then transported to Kalafong Hospital by Tshwane emergency services. That is the only patient that we transported. We are not sure if other patients were transported privately by private people," Mabaso told African News Agency.
African News Agency (ANA)