Home South African Five dead, 30 arrested in church hostage drama

Five dead, 30 arrested in church hostage drama


SAPS hostage negotiators diffusing the deadly situation at the International Pentecost Holiness Church

The police have arrested 30 suspects and seized more than 25 firearms during a hostage incident at the International Pentecost Holiness Church. Picture: SAPS

AT LEAST five people have been killed and 30 others arrested in a church hostage drama at the feud-ravaged International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, west of Johannesburg, the SAPS in Gauteng said on Saturday. 

“The scene is still active and we will be able to provide an update on the situation at a later stage,” Gauteng SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters told the African News Agency (ANA) in Pretoria. 

On its official Twitter account, the SAPS in Gauteng posted: “Early hours this morning SAPS was alerted to a hostage situation and shooting at International Pentecost Holiness Church, Zuurbekom. 30 suspects arrested and seized more than 25 firearms. Five fatalities confirmed. The scene is still active with SAPS hostage negotiators.”.

In November 2018 a shoot-out between feuding factions of the International Pentecost Holiness Church left three people wounded outside the church headquarters in Zuurbekom. The factions have been at loggerheads since the church leader and founder Comforter Glayton Modise died in 2016.

At the time, police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said one group drove towards the church allegedly to ambush a rival group that was inside the building.“The ones inside the church saw the approaching cars and a shoot-out ensued. One person was shot and he was taken to hospital,” Masondo said.

The rival group retreated under heavy gunfire and at least 13 vehicles were damaged. “The other group then used stones to damage the cars,” Masondo said. Police confiscated a number of firearms to be taken for ballistics checks.

In 2017, the warring factions of the church went to court over claims that more than R110 million was missing from the church coffers.

– African News Agency (ANA)