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Children die in stampede as Tanzania mourns former President Magufuli

A woman and four children have died after a stampede as Tanzanians mourn former President John Magufuli, police have told the BBC.

Some reports say the death toll could be high as 40 but officials have not confirmed this.

Tens of thousands of people had turned up at a stadium in Dar es Salaam to view the body of the former president.

Nicknamed the bulldozer, Mr Magufuli was popular with many Tanzanians for his no-nonsense governance style.

Critics, however, accused him of being an autocrat and of clamping down on dissent.

He also downplayed the effects of coronavirus and stopped the publication of the country’s case numbers and deaths.

Opposition politicians say that Mr Magufuli died from Covid-19, but this has not been confirmed.

‘Overwhelming grief’

Dennis Mtuwa’s wife, two of his children, a nephew and a niece have been confirmed among the dead after Sunday’s stampede, reports the BBC’s Salim Kikeke from Dar es Salaaam.

“These last 24 hours have been really difficult for me. I feel relieved when I’m surrounded by people, but when I’m alone the amount of grief becomes overwhelming,” Mr Mtuwa told the BBC.

The city’s Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa said he would give further details on Tuesday.

On Monday, thousands of Tanzanians attended Mr Magufuli’s state funeral in the capital, Dodoma, attended by several African leaders who gave glowing tributes.

The continent was “saddened by the death of a revolutionary,” said Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi of Mr Magufuli who died last week following heart complications at the age of 61.

Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan remembered her predecessor as a champion of the poor and a religious man.

“He wasn’t just our leader but also a guardian and parent to many… and an honest man,” President Samia said.

Tanzanian leaders attending the funeral and the majority of the thousands of people at the stadium in Dodoma did not wear face masks or observe social distancing – health measures that the late president often mocked.

However, visiting leaders and other delegations did wear masks.

He will be buried in his north-western hometown of Chato on Friday.

Source: BBC

Written by Kweku Eshun

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