Zambia, Africa (March 8, 2017) – In a report by Reuters Africa, at least eight people and left 28 others injured in a stampede in Zambia’s capital Lusaka last Monday, March 6, during the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church Of Christ ‘Lingap sa Mamamayan’ (Aid to Humanity) event as thousands of people struggled to claim food dole outs, police said.

Police already opened an investigation into the deadly crush where approximately 35,000 people forced their way inside the Olympic Youth Development Center (OYDC), a sports complex in Lusaka, where the Church of Christ (INC) and its aid organization, Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, Inc. were giving out food parcels.

Crowd during INC outreach in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo courtesy of LusakaTimes.

In a separate report by Zambia National Broadcasting Corp. (ZNBC), police spokeswoman Esther Katongo said the people were invited by Lesedi Seven (Lesedi7) group, the event organizer of the INC group’s event.

“We have since dispersed the gathering and an inquiry into the matter has been instituted,” a police statement said.

Suspension Until Further Notice

Speaking at a joint press briefing Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili says preliminary investigations have shown that leaders of the church have failed to comply with directives to produce necessary documentation governing operations of churches, in a report written by DailyNation News’ Kalobwe Bwalya and Dorcas Mtonga.

INC-led outreach program in Lusaka. Photo courtesy of @Mwebantu

ZNBC reported that the government has already suspended operations of the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) until further notice following the stampede that claimed lives.

President Edgar Lungu has sent his sympathy to the families of the deceased.

“The President sends his personal and Government’s sympathies to the families of the deceased and wishes them God’s supreme mercies to help them recover from this tragedy,” Sumaili said.

Meanwhile chief government Spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga says the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) will provide support to the bereaved families during the period of mourning.

Sixty percent of people in Zambia live below the poverty line and 42 percent are considered to be extremely poor, the World Bank says.

INC Statement

INC said in a statement released March 8 that they support the official inquiry and expressed sympathy over the victims and vows to continue helping people in Zambia.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives and were injured in Lusaka, as well as their loved ones. We are now getting a clearer picture of the hunger, the poverty and the desperation that must have driven those who tried to get into the OYDC.”

INC is an international religious organization with headquarters in the Philippines, led by its current Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo. [techthetruth]


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