Africa

Zimbabwe stampede after Kwekwe church service

The church service before the stampede Image copyright PHD MInistries/Facebook
Image caption Walter Magaya is one of Zimbabwe's most popular preachers

Eleven people have been killed in a stampede after a religious service in a stadium in Zimbabwe, police say.

Four people died in the stadium in the central town of Kwekwe, while seven others were declared dead on arrival in hospital, they say.

The stampede occurred as thousands of worshippers rushed to leave after the service by popular Pentecostal preacher Walter Magaya.

He claims to be able to heal people by performing miracles.

Some witnesses accused the police of blocking most of the stadium exits and then firing tear gas as people battled to get through the only one left open.

The police have denied firing tear gas.

Mr Magaya, head of the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries, told a local newspaper that when he learnt of the deaths, it was "the saddest moment of my life".


Analysis: Stanley Kwenda; BBC Africa:

Walter Magaya is one of a new breed of flamboyant preachers in Zimbabwe and claims to use miracles to cure all kinds of ailments, help people achieve their desires, and cast out demonic spirits.

He was initially overshadowed by other preachers until his popularity grew over the last two years.

Mr Magaya counts the popular Nigerian pastor TB Joshua as his mentor.

Occasionally he ventures into philanthropic work and recently gave money to a popular TV actor to travel to India for cancer treatment, and a foundation for the disabled in Harare.

His weekend church services are attended by thousands around the country.

His popularity increased when he sought to convert a well-known pole dancer, Beverly Sibanda to Christianity.


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