| ‘We are not hoping to be right or wrong’ – Bushiri church on looming report into stampede deaths

The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) says it wants to learn from the investigation into the fatal stampede at the church last month, saying that it didn’t matter if it was right or wrong.

“We are not hoping to be right or wrong in this case. What we want is to be able to learn from their investigation,” church spokesperson Maynard Manyowa told News24 on Thursday.

Manyowa made the comments a day before the CRL Rights Commission releases its findings and recommendations after conducting hearings relating to the incident this week.

The commission held the hearings after several discrepancies came to light regarding what transpired at the Tshwane Events Centre on the evening of December 28, when the stampede occurred.  

READ: Prophet Bushiri details what happened on night of deadly stampede

Manyowa said the church was hoping to hear the commission’s objective views on what went wrong that day so that it would never be repeated. 

On Monday, church leader Prophet Shepherd Bushiri answered tough questions from the commission about the events that unfolded that fatal evening.  

Bushiri said, when a storm hit Pretoria, congregants panicked and caused a stampede in one of the halls where church members were waiting for a service that was scheduled o begin at around 22:00.

He also told the commission that the church was compliant with health and safety regulations and that it was not involved in the transportation of bodies from the scene.

“The church only came to know through the media that there was a case of bodies being moved from the church without the police and taken to private mortuary,” Bushiri told the commission.

During the hearings the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) called for the families of the victims to be compensated with at least R1m.

ALSO READ: Confusion at hearing over who granted compliance certificate for Bushiri church

The church said it was working on a compensation package along with the commission. 

The commission has embarked on mediation efforts with one family who is aggrieved. 

“We are hopeful that the CRL will win in its mediation efforts, specifically the one family that is aggrieved so that we maybe able to render further assistance,” he said.

Sanco and community members protested outside the premises two weeks ago calling for the church to be shut down. 

Manyowa said [they] were also hoping the report would be able to mediate between the church and Sanco. 

“We do not believe we can ever be winners in this. We lost beloved family members in this tragedy, and even if we are found to have done everything right and someone else dropped the ball, we will remain a family in mourning,” he said.

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