Dar es Salaam. Special Police Zone Commander Lazaro Mambosasa has said they are yet to establish the exact number of people injured in stampede at the stadium, saying there is a possibility the number could be high.
Sunday, March 21, was the second and final day for Dar es Salaam residents to pay their last respects to Tanzania’s fifth president, who was first elected in 2015 before winning another term in the October 28, 2020 General Election, but ended up serving only four months of his second and final five-year term.
In contrast to the first day on Saturday, there were chaotic scenes on Sunday when tens of thousands of people from all walks of life turned up to bid farewell to the man who was Tanzania’s head of state for nearly five and a half years.
At some point, security officers had to prevent mourners from entering the stadium using unofficial entrance points.
Tanzania Red Cross Society personnel on the other hand had a busy time attending to mourners who fainted after filing past Magufuli’s body.
Mourners started arriving at the stadium early in the morning, and the 23,000-seater area was filled to capacity by 9.30am, prompting some of those who could not get in to try to find their way into the venue using unofficial entrance points.
It was at that point that security personnel directed that no one should be allowed in to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
“The stadium is overwhelmed at the moment. Don’t let anyone enter until the situation improves,” a voice blared over the public address system at the stadium.
Despite the announcement, dozens of people could be seen forcing their way in, while others scaled the perimeter wall around the stadium. Initial attempts to stop them were, at best, half-hearted.
Sensing danger, security personnel resorted to force to keep out people, mostly youth, who were jumping over the wall and dashing to join queues of mourners filing past the body.
But Temeke District Commissioner Godwin Gondwe asked the officers to desist from using excessive force to control the unruly crowd.
“These are our people, and they are here to mourn and bid their leader farewell. Give proper instructions to those who are in the wrong place, but make sure everyone gets the chance to pay their last respects,” he said.
Mr Gondwe pleaded with mourners to remain calm, and assured them that they would all have an opportunity to pay their last respects.
“Thank you for coming to say farewell to our father. I assure you that you will all have a chance to pay your last respects, but you need to follow the proper procedure. Everyone here will see him. We have to make sure that nobody gets hurt. ”
Mr Gondwe directed the Temeke regional police commander to send more officers to the stadium to ensure that the exercise was conducted smoothly. Members of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force assisted mourners, including children and people with disabilities, to pay their last respects.
Dr Magufuli died of heart complications at the Mzena Memorial Hospital in Dar es Salaam on March 17, and his body will be laid to rest at his hometown of Chato in Geita Region on Friday, March 26, 2021.