POLICE yesterday released the names of the 11 people who were crushed to death in a stampede at the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries (PHD) crusade at Mbizo Stadium in Kwekwe last Thursday.
The victims were from Kwekwe, Redcliff and Gweru. Those from Kwekwe are Ian Nkomo, 40, of Amaveni and Tendekai Bafana, 9; Tamuka Chivasa, 11; Winnie Chikanda, 12; Rachel Zvinei, 16; Cynthia Jane Katsholo, 47 as well as Juliet Mawere, 55 all from Mbizo suburb.
The victims from Redcliff have been identified as Shadreck Gumisidzo Kurebwa, 59 and Grace Gwinji whose age was not given while those from Gweru are Albert Ndure, 13 and Bridget Mukarati, 34.
Meanwhile, police have denied allegations that they fired teargas at the congregants.
Police said gas canisters used by one of the vendors identified as Amos Muzeiwa (43) to cook food which he was selling to the public at the stadium, triggered the stampede after they leaked and burst into flames.
"The gas bottles leaked and burst into flames as the crowd was about to leave the stadium. This triggered the stampede leading to the death of some people while others were injured," said the police.
Police said they have since established that a main gate normally used by vehicles and a small gate were opened by Kwekwe Council officials who handed the keys to the PHD ushers.
The statement said the other two gates were locked and the crusade organisers did not have the keys to those gates.
The police said officers hired by PHD ministries had to open one side of the main gate which had been closed by the church ushers so that some people could leave the stadium through the gate.
The police said it was important to emphasise that the PHD event was a private function and police were therefore not obliged to provide security.
"All police officers who were on duty on that day had no tear smoke or baton sticks as had been previously alleged. In future, when churches and other organisations plan to host such gatherings, they should consider hiring open spaces as opposed to stadia.
"The open areas don’t hinder the free movement of people especially at night," said the police.