NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Tanzanian police have said 45 people died in a stampede last week during a public viewing of the body of the country’s late President John Magufuli before he was buried.
Magufuli was revered by many in Tanzania for his pugnacious style of leadership and his campaign against corruption, although opposition leaders criticized him for his skepticism of the COVID-19 pandemic and repressive policies. Magufuli was also criticized by some African and international health experts for discouraging the use of face masks, vaccinations, and other measures to combat the spread of the disease.
In efforts to view Magufuli’s body at Uhuru stadium in Dar es Salaam, some people climbed a wall which collapsed, causing a stampede in which people were killed, the city’s police chief Lazaro Mambosasa said Monday night.
Magufuli was given a hero’s burial in which his coffin was lowered into the ground Friday by military generals followed by a 21-gun salute in Chato, his hometown in the country’s northwest.
Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent COVID-19 skeptics. Even though his government announced on March 17 that he had died of heart failure, opposition leaders charge that he died of complications from COVID-19.
Magufuli claimed last year that three days of national prayer had eradicated COVID-19 from Tanzania and discouraged residents from wearing face masks and getting vaccines.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the former vice president who succeeded Magufuli to become Tanzania’s first woman president, on Tuesday, nominated Finance Minister Philip Mpango to be her vice president. Her nomination was unanimously endorsed by parliament.