IPHC church attack

International Pentecostal Holiness Church – IPHC church attack. Photo: Supplied

IPHC church attack: Assailants were disguised as police – reports

Police are still processing the events that led up to a hostage drama in Zuurbekom on Saturday after arresting around 50 ‘hitmen’.

IPHC church attack

International Pentecostal Holiness Church – IPHC church attack. Photo: Supplied

As we reported on Saturday 11 July, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) in Zuurbekom, west of Johannesburg came under siege this weekend from armed assailants.

It has now emerged that the attackers arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning armed to the teeth and disguised as police officers, while some of their number have been confirmed to be security forces.

IPHC church attackers ‘armed to the teeth’

Police said that the men who were former members of the church forcefully entered the property of the IPHC headquarters in Zuurbekom.

They are alleged to have been in possession of equipment issued by state security forces, the weapons would later be seized by the South African Police Service who dispatched a tactical response team as well as hostage negotiators to the scene.

According to a statement issued by the church the attackers arrived in convoy led by a BMW 3 series flanked by two quantum mini-buses. They were denied access at one entrance before circling around to another and forcing their way in.

“Because they were led by a former [church] member who knows the premises, they were able to enter forcefully through the south gate entrance,” IPHC secretary of council Mpho Makwana said. The secretary confirmed that this is not the first time the church has been subjected to such attacks.

The church has been locked in a bitter leadership church that has split the denomination into three distinct factions, two of whom are led by former Comforter Glayton Modise’s sons.

Modise died in 2016 without a will and without officially anointing a successor.

The church is among the largest African initiated churches boasting nearly three million members.

Security forces among ‘hitmen’ who entered the church

Makwana said this attack was the latest in a string of assaults on church property.

“The modus operandi utilised was similar to the one utilised when his grace the comforter’s property in Pienaarsrivier (Kanana) was seized in January 2020 through violent deployment of hitmen. A similar strategy was deployed in Blaauwberg in May 2019 on the occasion of the IPHC’s Mt Zion pilgrimage,” Makwana added.

SAPS National Commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla John Sitole confirmed in a statement to the press that four people were found shot and burnt to death in a car, while a fifth victim, a security guard, was fatally shot in his car while attending to the complaint.

Police arrested more than 40 people among them members of the SAPS, SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), and the correctional services department.

Police praised for rapid response to IPHC church attack

Lieutenant General Sitole praised the rapid response of SAPS members to the IPHC church attack, asserting that their actions helped avoid more bloodshed.

“I am certain that the speedy response by the joint security forces has averted what could have been a more severe bloodbath.

“I have tasked the provincial management to finalise its preliminary investigations in the quickest possible time and ensure that the 72-hour activation plan is mobilised to bring to book all those responsible for this attack.

“I have embarked on a spiritual crime prevention concept which involves the participation of all religious denominations in the fight against crime. It is rather unfortunate that such an incident takes place during a time when South Africa is being plagued by a deadly virus and violent crimes,” Sitole said