Deadly church banned
March 7, 2017
PRISCILLA CHIPULU & STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has suspended operations of Church of Christ following a stampede that killed eight people, including a nine-month-old baby, in Lusaka yesterday as a church organisation doled out free food hampers.
The accident also left 28 people injured.
Inspector-General of Police Kakoma Kanganja and his officers from the divisional headquarters had to stop the programme to avert a bigger disaster at the OYDC.
Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili said in an interview that the church failed to submit operating documents even after being asked to do so on Thursday last week.
She said the church will remain suspended until investigations are concluded by relevant authorities.
Reverend Sumaili said the government was not aware of the outreach programme the Church of Christ had engaged in at the OYDC yesterday.
â€œI asked them last week on Thursday before the event could take place to bring the certificate of registration, their constitution and their profile but they didnâ€™t bring. We have deaths involved. Therefore, we decided to suspend its operations until investigations are completed,â€ she said.
What was to be a joyful event turned tragic as thousands of Lusaka residents, including those who had not been registered as beneficiaries, surged forward to get their own share of the windfall.
The dead and the injured were among over 35,000 people who had gathered as early as 04:00 hours to receive the free food hampers from the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ).
Police spokesperson Esther Katongo said an investigation had been launched into the matter.
However, before the stampede resulted in more deaths, Mr Kanganja and his officers stormed the premises to halt the programme.