The Tanzanian Police on Tuesday said that 45 people lost their lives in Dar es Salaam during a stampede on March 21 when mourners paid their last respects to the late President John Magufuli.
The stampede took place on the second day of tributes at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, when the public was allowed in to pay their respects.
Tragedy struck when thousands of grieving citizens tried to push their way into the stadium to bid farewell to their former president.
According to Dar es Salaam Regional Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa, “There were a lot of people who wanted to get in the stadium, and some were not patient. They tried to force their way in and that resulted in a stampede. Forty-five died in the accident,”
”Five of the deceased were from the same family,” Mambosasa said.
Mambosasa said several dozen were also injured in the stampede but most had been released from the hospital.
Magufuli’s body was finally laid to rest in his ancestral village of Chato, in the country’s northwest, on March 26, after it was transported to the major cities of Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Zanzibar, Mwanza and Geita.
Tens of thousands came out to pay their respects, lining roads, weeping and running alongside the casket as a military motorcade moved through the cities.
Magufuli died aged 61 from what authorities say was a heart condition, after a mysterious absence of almost three weeks, and questions remain over the true cause of his death which the opposition says was from Covid-19.
His deputy Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in as the country’s first female president and led the ceremonies bidding him farewell.
A state funeral held in the capital Dodoma, the day after the stampede, was attended by African leaders from across the continent.
Magufuli was hailed for his fight against corruption and massive infrastructure projects, but was criticised for the stifling of democracy and crackdowns on the media, civil society and the opposition.
On Tuesday, Suhulu Hassan nominated Finance Minister Philip Mpango as her deputy, which needs to be endorsed by parliament.