MORE than 30 Methodist Church members were hospitalised on Sunday when a massive swarm of bees attacked them at a funeral in Tsholotsho.

The funeral proceedings came to a halt after one of the congregants entered a blair toilet and immediately stormed out half naked and screaming with a swarm of angry bees in hot pursuit.

The mourners had gathered from Bulawayo and different parts of Tsholotsho District for the burial of a female congregant, only identified as Gogo Makwiri in Umguzana Village under Chief Gampu.

Not even prayer could stop the bees as congregants who quickly formed a group to "rebuke" the bees, hastily disbanded and joined fleeing mourners.

The injured, most of whom had swollen faces and hands, were rushed to Tsholotsho District Hospital for treatment.

Cecelia Chivi, the steward of the Methodist Gwayi circuit, who was at the funeral, told Chronicle that the congregants were lucky to be alive after the Sunday morning incident.

Chivi is one of the few church members who escaped unhurt.

"We had gathered to pay our last respects to one of our church members, Gogo Makwiri at about 9AM when one woman went to relieve herself in one of the blair toilets at our church at Umguzana village. In less than a minute, she stormed out of the toilet and rushed to the church with her head and face covered with bees," said Chivi.

"Before we knew what was happening people started screaming and running in different directions, some to a nearby river as the bees attacked everyone. The coffin was left in the church as everybody ran for their lives."

Chivi added that Nyaradzo Funeral Services workers, who were in their vihecles when the incident occurred, had a torrid time rushing the church members to the hospital.

"I have never seen such a huge swarm of bees in my entire life and I want to believe that all the people who were there are alive by God’s grace. More than 30 people were rushed to the hospital with swollen faces, hands, backs and legs.

"I’m one of the few people who were not stung by the bees but they covered my head and my church uniform and I just froze and made a silent payer. Some of the people who were affected, suffered from running stomachs, vomiting and headaches," said Chivi.

She added that the coffin carrying Gogo Makwiri’s body remained unattended for more than two hours, with only a few people resuming burial after most congregants had been taken to hospital.

Another congregant from Sipepa village, Smile Ncube, who was discharged from the hospital yesterday, said he was still feeling pain on his body after the bee attack.

"I’m one of the people who were seriously affected by the attack. I was stung all over my head and on both hands. I vomited the whole day yesterday and suffered a running stomach. I’ve since been discharged but I’m yet to fully recover.

"It’s unfortunate that most people at the funeral were visitors from other branches and villagers from Umguzana only mentioned after the attack that the blair toilet was a no-go area as a swarm of bees had turned it into their home," said Ncube.

Chief Gampu could not comment on the issue yesterday saying he was at a wedding in Bulawayo.

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