Father of children killed at Magufuli’s farewell narrates ordeal

The coffins containing bodies of five members of the same family who died during the funeral process of the late President John Magufuli at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, as seen inside the Kimara Lutheran Church yesterday. The dead were laid to rest at the family’s Kimara home ground. Photo I The Citizen

What you need to know:

  • Christian (11), Michelle (8), Nathan (6), Natalia (5), Suzan Ndana Mtuwa (30s) and a housemaid Anita Mfikwa (27) died as they went to pay their last respects to the body of former President John Magufuli.

Hundreds of mourners turned up at the home of Mr David Mtuwa in Dar es Salaam yesterday to pay their last respects to five family members who lost their lives during a stampede at Uhuru Stadium on Sunday.

Christian (11), Michelle (8), Nathan (6), Natalia (5), Suzan Ndana Mtuwa (30s) and a housemaid Anita Mfikwa (27) died as they went to pay their last respects to the body of former President John Magufuli.

The five bodies with the exception of that of Anita, were buried at David Mtuwa’s home ground, a grandfather of the four dead-children and a father-in-law of Suzy where the whole family resides.

It was a hard time for Mr Denis Mtuwa as he sought to narrate the ordeal that his two sons (Nathan and Natalia) and his wife Suzan went through before they breathed their last on Sunday.

“I married Suzan in 2011 and got our first born, Nathan in 2013. Our second child, Natalia, was born in 2014 and our last born in 2018. I have also lived with our housemaid, Anita, since 2013 until her death,” he said.

The vividly sorrowful Mr Denis said after being informed that his wife and family were hospitalised at Temeke Referral Hospital he rushed there.

While there, he searched in the emergency room and patients’ wards, but he could not find them and was thus told to go and search in the morgue.

“I entered the mortuary and found many dead bodies on the ground. I started searching and managed to see the body of my son Nathan, lying on the floor and then my wife (Suzan). I was shocked and felt bad seeing them lying on the floor dead with some injuries on parts of their bodies,” he narrated.

“I couldn’t find the others on the floor and decided to open the morgue’s fridges where I found the other three bodies (Natalia, Christian and Michelle) all having bruises on their skins.

“The situation seems like people had stepped on their bodies,” he added.

Anita (housemaid) was nowhere to be found until the two next days where she was found dead at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH).

“I contacted her parents and let them decide on when and where she will be laid to rest,” he said.

Leading a funeral mass, Pastor Wilbroad Mastai of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania at Kimara warned people against concluding that the Mtuwa family had behaved recklessly for taking the children to Uhuru Stadium where thousands of Dar es Salaam residents paid their last respects to Dr Magufuli’s body.

Pastor Mastai said every death had a reason.

“There is no human being who can choose to die or run away from death….

“It is only God who decides when and how.

“We can’t judge why they died there because not all who went there died,” he preached.

Being his first experience to lead the funeral mass of five bodies at once in his 20 years of service, Pastor Mastai asked the parents, relatives and friends gathered to pay their last respects to the deceased ones, remain calm and pray.

“I know how it pains to lose the people you cherish the most, but it is true that they won’t come back. You must live your lives cherishing the best moments you spent with them before they died,” he preached.

Head teacher of Jerusalem Primary School where Nathan, Michelle and Natalia were schooling Daphne Msangi said the three will be remembered for their participation in various school events with Suzan being remembered for selling cakes during ceremonial events.

“Our school, owned by the Lutheran church, was established in 2018 and the three were among the first students. The majority of teachers and workers know them, so it will be hard to forget them,” she noted.

Government officers, including the Ubungo District Commissioner Kisare Makori and Member of Parliament for Kibamba constituency Issa Mtemvu also attended the funeral.

“I received the information of this tragic loss when I was in Dodoma waiting for the body of the late Magufuli.

“I contacted people in my office to rush here and assist the family,” said Mr Mtemvu.

He cancelled his trip to Chato to pay his last respect to Dr Magufuli and came back to mourn the death of the six people and lay them to rest.


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