At least 20 Botswana Muslims who attended the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia luckily escaped death following the horrific stampede that killed more than 700 and injured over 800 other pilgrims, The Telegraph has learnt.
Interviewed by this publication a Botswana Muslim Association member of trustees Sheikh Hategekimana Hassan revealed that there were no Batswana Muslim pilgrims who either died or sustained injuries during last Thursday’s stampede that shocked the world with more than 700 pilgrims dying.
The Sheikh explained that before the Hajj, about 20 Muslims mostly young people registered to attend the annual event held in Saudi Arabia.
According to Hassan, the group of youths went two weeks before the hajj.
They travelled separately and arrived safely in Saudi Arabia.
“It was shocking to learn that such a huge number of people had perished during the hajj. Soon after the horrendous revelation, we conferred with some family members who had not gone to the hajj and who denied the possibility of their peers or relatives as victims, dead or wounded,” he said.
Hassan stated that Batswana Muslims were not at the site where a ritual of throwing pebbles at three stone columns happened.
Hassan shared the same sentiments with the Saudi Arabia authorities that the tragedy was a human error due to the fact that the pilgrims had not followed the rules laid out by the authorities resulting in two groups colliding and leading to the death of many lives.
He indicated that they are expecting the Batswana Muslims pilgrims to arrive home within the next few days and share their experiences during the tragedy.
Contacted for comment the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation spokesperson Clifford Maribe said so far they had not received any information from the Botswana mission in Kuwait on whether there are Batswana Muslims that might have died or sustained injuries during hajj.
“Even the Botswana Muslim Association has not reported anything,” said Maribe.