At least five people, including four children, died in a stampede during a public viewing of the body of former Tanzanian President John Magufuli over the weekend.
Regional leaders joined Tanzanians to pay their last respects to the controversial leader.
Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent Covid-19 sceptics and even though his government announced that he had died of heart failure on Wednesday, opposition leaders and critics say that he died of complications from Covid-19, reports the Associated Press.
Tens of thousands of Tanzanians came out to view Magufuli’s body at Uhuru Stadium in the country’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, over the weekend.
The BBC is reporting the death toll from the crush and stampede could be high as 40 but officials have not confirmed this. The city’s police commander said he would give further details of the deaths on Tuesday.
Nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, Magufuli was popular with many Tanzanians for his no-nonsense governance style. Critics, however, accused him of being an autocrat and of clamping down on dissent.
He also downplayed the effects of coronavirus and stopped the publication of the country’s infection numbers and deaths.
At the funeral on Monday, Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, remembered her predecessor as a champion of the poor and a religious man, saying, “He wasn’t just our leader but also a guardian and parent to many, and an honest man.”
Tanzanian leaders attending the funeral and the majority of the thousands of people at the stadium did not wear face masks or observe social distancing – health measures that the late president often mocked.
However, visiting leaders and other delegations did wear masks.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa described him as a “true pan-Africanist” who was unapologetic about being an African.