Photo Credits: Facebook
At least 20 people were killed during the church stampede that happened after Boniface Mwamposa, who calls himself the “Apostle”, poured some holy oil on the ground and everyone tried to step on it in the hopes it would cure all of their sicknesses. Boniface Mwamposa is a popular preacher who leads the Arise and Shine Ministry in Tanzania.
Often in underdeveloped areas, people are drawn to the influence of so-called prophets or miracle-workers that will somehow get them out of trouble. They promise miraculous healing or salvation from hunger. Preachers who spread what they call the “prosperity gospel” have been involved in financial scams and money laundering schemes, as well as other stampedes.
Interior Minister George Simbachawene said that Mr. Mwamposa was arrested after the deaths. The charges against him were not immediately revealed. A witness who was at the service, Peter Kilewo, told reporters that the scene was “horrible” and that people were “trampled on mercilessly, jostling each other with elbows.”
As the New York Times reports, Mr. Simbachawen accused the church of not taking sufficient precautions and of violating the terms of its permit for the meeting, which ran two hours later than planned. He also said the government would strengthen the requirements needed to register as a church. “The incident took place at night and there were many people, so there is a possibility that more casualties could emerge,” he told Reuters.
"Twenty people died and 16 others were injured in the incident," Kippi Warioba, Moshi district commissioner, told Reuters news agency by telephone. Five of those killed were children, he said.
This isn’t the first tragedy that happened in Africa’s churches. For example, in Nigeria, in 2013, at least 28 people who attended the weekly crusade at the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Uke, lost their lives during a stampede. One year after that incident, eleven Zimbabweans lost their lives in a stampede which occurred after a religious service. Last year, three people were killed in a stampede at a church in Pretoria, South Africa, during a service led by Shepherd Bushiri, Africa’s wealthiest preacher.