PRETORIA. – A case of defeating the ends of justice has been opened against Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering Church following a stampede that claimed the lives of three women in Pretoria on Friday night, police say.
The case was opened at Pretoria West SAPS on Sunday, Police spokesperson Captain Augustinah Selepe said.
“The charge is added based on the fact that police have established that the deceased where (classified) dead at the church premises and the incident was not reported to the police,” Selepe said.
She said the bodies were removed from the church premises and taken to a private mortuary called Red Ford Mortuary.
Meanwhile, the church is pushing ahead with its “Crossover Night” New Year’s Eve event, despite the stampede.
The church said that arrangements for Monday night’s event were in the final stages.
Police have been unable to identify the three women who died, and they have appealed for assistance in finding their next of kin. Selepe said that the attempted identification of the three women had started at 10:00.
She previously told News24 that police had only heard about the stampede on Saturday afternoon, and that officers were immediately dispatched to the scene.
The church is situated at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria. According to Selepe, the police believe that a thunderstorm prompted members of the congregation to push each other as they panicked, leading to the stampede.
The service began around 20:00 on Friday. Meanwhile, Bushiri’s lawyer, Terrance Baloyi of Baloyi Ntsako Attorneys, earlier told News24 that those who were injured had been transported from hospital and provided with accommodation and catering.
“As we speak, those who are remaining are about 10… We gave them accommodation at Pretoria Protea Hotel,” he said. – News24