Controversial Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri. Picture: Facebook

Pretoria - The South African Police Service (SAPS) is investigating the death of three women congregants at Shepherd Bushiri's Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church in Pretoria on Friday night. 

A police delegation led by SAPS Tshwane West policing cluster commander Maj-Gen Daniel Mthombeni visited the Pretoria Showgrounds - where the church is situated - on Saturday afternoon, shortly after learning about the alleged stampede by congregants which is said to have caused the trio's death.

"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," Pretoria police spokeswoman Captain Augustinah Selepe told the African News Agency (ANA).

She said the three victims had not yet been identified. The exact cause of the incident was yet to be ascertained. "An inquest has been opened for investigation. Anyone with a missing person believed to have attended the church service should visit the Pretoria West police station. The injured people were taken to Kalafong Hospital and Pretoria West Hospital. The three deceased were taken to a funeral parlour," Selepe said.

Charles Mabaso of Tshwane emergency services said a distress call was received before 8 pm 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 said.

African News Agency (ANA)