Struggle For ‘Holy Oil’ Killed 20 People In Tanzania During Church Stampede

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A stampede involving church worshippers in Tanzania has killed at least 20 people after the enthusiastic crowd gathered to receive “holy oil”.

The outdoor religious service happened in the northern town of Moshi on a Saturday evening on the first of February 2020 at the Arise and Shine Ministry Tanzania.

A popular preacher, Boniface Mwamposa, whose congregation calls him “Apostle” led the prayer ceremony. Al-Jazeera reports that Mwamposa alleged that his holy oil could solve the problems of his congregants.

Mwamposa then poured the oil on the ground and the people rushed to take a touch.

Peter Kilwelo, a witness, was quoted by AFP saying: “People trampled on mercilessly, jostling each other with elbows.”

“It was like the preacher had thrown bundles of dollars about … and there were all these deaths!”

Apart from the dead, 16 people were also reported injured.

Local news outlets reported that Mr. Mwamposa had flown to the city of Dar es Salaam, on the Tanzanian coast, after the stampede to lead a prayer service at another branch of his church.

However, he was later detained by the police to help with investigations. President John Magufuli then sent his condolences to the bereaved.

Interior Minister George Simbachawene accused the church of not taking sufficient precautions and of violating the terms of its permit for the meeting, which ran two hours later than planned.

Tanzania has a majority Christian population with most people identifying with Pentecostal denominations. The country is also home to an exuberant tradition of “miracle-working” Christianity as well as the phenomenon of prosperity gospel.

There has been a rise in the number of pastors who claim they can perform “miracle cures” and eradicate poverty in Africa in recent years.

Preachers who spread what they call the “prosperity gospel” have been involved in financial scams and money laundering schemes, as well as other stampedes.

Last year, three people were killed in a stampede at a church in Pretoria, South Africa, during a service led by Shepherd Bushiri, Africa’s wealthiest preacher.

He was charged with money laundering and fraud after accusations that he had smuggled cases of money out of South Africa on his private jet in February 2019.

Last year, a church building in eastern South Africa partly collapsed at the start of the Easter weekend, killing at least 13 people and injuring 16 others during heavy rainfall that caused flooding, power outages and structural damage.

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