The coffin containing the body of the former president of Tanzania, John Magufuli, was due to fly from Dar es Salaam to the nation’s capital Dodoma yesterday when a major security breach meant it could not take off as planned. The outspoken president passed away last Wednesday. His coffin is due to fly to multiple locations to allow his people to pay their respects.
Thousands stormed the airport
Air Tanzania was due to undertake a very special mission yesterday – flying the body of former president John Magufuli from Dar es Salaam to the capital Dodoma. However, the emotionally charged residents of the East African city had other ideas.
Thousands of locals stormed the airport, tearing down the perimeter security fences and rushing onto the apron. Reports of injuries and possible fatalities resulting from the stampede have begun to surface, although the extent is unknown. With so many people on the airfield, it would have been impossible for the aircraft to take off.
#Tanzania reports of casualties when thousands of people tore down perimeter security fences at Julius Nyerere International Airport Dar es Salaam when plane carrying the body of President Magufuli was preparing to flown to the capital Dodoma pic.twitter.com/gxfuRLNuvc
— Evelyn Tremble (@DrumChronicles) March 22, 2021
Was waiting for flight to Dodoma then this happened, Wananchi forced and entered at the Airport to bid their farewell. They Did love Magufuli. #RIPMagufuli #ripmagufuli #Tanzania #Zanzibar pic.twitter.com/sfPCHew1f5
— Munira Noor (@Munienoor15) March 21, 2021
Wanainchi in Dar forced themselves onto the runway at the Julius Nyerere International Airport just to see off their former President Magufuli as the body heads to Dodoma City. This was filmed a few minutes ago by my colleague @Munienoor15 #RIPMagufuli pic.twitter.com/k0eMf5WFfV
— Atulinda Allan🇺🇬 (@Atulinda_Allan) March 21, 2021
One Mile At A Time reports that the aircraft scheduled to carry the body to Dodoma was a Dash 8-400, registration 5H-TCF. This is an Air Tanzania aircraft, one of four Dash 8s it operates and is just over one year old.
Tracking service FlightRadar24.com shows the aircraft traveling to Dodoma at around 18:45 yesterday evening, local time. It seems, therefore, that access was eventually cleared.
Shrouded in mystery
The death of Tanzania’s former president, John Magufuli, has been shrouded in mystery. The 61 year old, nicknamed ‘the bulldozer’, was said by the state to have died of heart failure on Wednesday last week. But he had been missing for several days prior and was rumored to have contracted COVID.
Magufuli was perhaps the world’s most outrageous COVID denier. His outspoken condemnation of the impact of coronavirus led him to instill fear in his people of the safety of masks and vaccines while simultaneously stifling the media from reporting anything he didn’t like the sound of. The nation has not reported COVID figures since May 2020.
Nevertheless, he was a popular president, and the news of his passing has been emotionally received by the people of Tanzania. His coffin was brought to the Uhuru stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, as throngs of weeping mourners lined the streets. During the time he was lying in state at the stadium, thousands of people filed past to pay their respects.
— Paul Kirobi (@PauKirobi) March 20, 2021
The coffin with visit several more locations over the next few days for public viewing, before heading for burial in Magufuli’s hometown of Chato. It’s likely we could see more scenes such as this at airports in the East African country before the former president is finally laid to rest.