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KZN police open inquest docket into deadly church collapse

On Thursday night, 13 worshipers were attending a Passover service when the wall of a church they were in collapsed.

The Pentecostal Church in Ndlangubo in KwaZulu-Natal after a structural collapse on 19 April 2019. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - KwaZulu-Natal police have opened an inquest docket to investigate the church wall collapse in Empangeni that claimed the lives of 13 congregants.

The congregants were inside a building attending a Passover service on Thursday night when a side wall of the church collapsed.

The police said those who died were mostly young people, with the youngest person being 11 years old.

A preliminary report by the local Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) cited the heavy rainfall could be the reason for the tragedy.

Scores were also injured, and taken to Ngwelezana Hospital.

“Yesterday [Thursday] just after 10pm, the congregants at Pentecostal Church at Empangeni were sleeping in the structure when there were heavy wind and rain, that’s when the building collapsed,” said KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

CONDOLENCES

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) in Gauteng has sent its condolences to the families of the 13 congregants who died.

The SACC in Gauteng said it was saddened by the incident.

“We have been praying for them, our sincere condolences to the families. As Christians, we pray for one another in bad and good times. Indeed those people of Empangeni are in our prayers,” said SACC provincial deputy chairperson Father Mlungisi Ntsele.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has called for an investigation into the safety of the church.

“These are unnecessary deaths that could have been avoided if we had taken necessary precautions. We want clarity through an investigation led by the police and Cogta.,” said the premier’s spokesperson, Thami Ngidi.