PRETORIA - The SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on Monday said Prophet Shepherd Bushiri must pay at least R1 million each to the three families of the congregants who died in the December 28 stampede at the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG).
"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," Sanco Greater Tshwane chairperson Abram Mashishi testified at the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights (CRL Rights Commission) which is mediating between the ECG and Sanco.
The latter has been protesting in Pretoria, calling for the ECG to be expelled in the wake of the stampede.
"Sanco is making that submission that we are not dictating to this commission, but we are saying the Judge Moseneke commission is what we can benchmark on. We have managed to drive this process to where we are today. The City [Tshwane] must also be part."
Sanco was accompanied by family members of Matshila Sarah Mohlala, one of the three women who passed away in the December 28 stampede.
"We were not there, but we got an allegation that one of the [ECG] pastors owns a mortuary in Atteridgeville. The deceased were transported to that private mortuary without compliance. We are waiting for the police to take us to that mortuary and do the investigations," said Mashishi.
"We were told by the poor [Mohlala] family that when they identified their mum, after the intervention of the police when they were sent from pillar to post they found their mum in a government mortuary after struggling for a long time. She was stinky, swollen... it was not good. So you ask yourself, if someone was in a refrigerator how can they be stinking?"
Three women were killed in an apparent stampede at the ECG in December. At least 17 other congregants were injured as they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm.
The deceased women were Mohlala, Patricia Pringane and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi.
In the aftermath, Sanco led street protests at ECG, calling for the church to be expelled from the Pretoria showgrounds forthwith.
Leaders of civil rights movement #NotInMyNameSA attended the CRL Rights Commission's hearing on Monday to "observe" the proceedings.
Earlier on Monday, Bushiri apologized for the deadly stampede.
"The ECG International Church would like to take this opportunity to reiterate is deepest apology to the South African people for the accident that happened at its Pretoria Branch. Despite being an accident, as a church we took, and we always do, full responsibility of the incident and we are comforted and encouraged by the level of support from different South Africans from different parts of the divide," said Bushiri.
African News Agency (ANA)