Disagreements within church ranks apparently led to a hostage drama early Saturday morning in Gauteng, in which five people were killed.
Among others, police and army members were arrested.
Brig. Vish Naidoo, national police spokesperson, said in a media statement early Saturday afternoon that several divisions of the police, as well as members of the South African Army, responded to reports of a shooting and alleged hostage situation at a church in around 03:00 on Saturday morning. Westonaria on the West Rand. This church, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, is in Zuurbekom.
According to Naidoo, a group of gunmen apparently arrived at the church shortly before and attacked people inside the building.
“They apparently indicated that they were there to take over the premises. We are investigating the possibility that the motive for the attack is a feud between conflicting groups in the church. “
Police found the bodies of four people who were shot and burned in a car, as well as the body of a security guard who was shot dead in his car after apparently responding to a complaint (about the shooting). Naidoo said police arrested more than 40 suspects, including six who were taken to hospital with injuries.
Among the arrested are police and army members, as well as members of the Johannesburg metro police and people working for the Department of Correctional Services.
Police seized more than 34 firearms. Naidoo said by early Saturday afternoon police were still on the scene. The figures on the arrests and seizures could still change, he says.
Police rescued women and children believed to be living on the premises and held hostage.
Genl. Khehla John Sitole, national police commissioner, praised the various police units in Gauteng involved in the action for their prompt response to the incident.
“I am convinced it prevented an even worse massacre. I instructed the provincial police management to complete the preliminary investigation as soon as possible so that the 72 hour activation plan could come into effect to call those responsible for the attack. ”
Sitole says it’s a pity that such a thing happens at a time when South Africa is suffering from “the scourge of a deadly virus and violent crimes”.
“I now follow a spiritual crime prevention concept that will involve all religious groups in the fight against crime.”