Hostage IPHC

Photo: Supplied

Police diffusing hostage situation at IPHC church in Gauteng

Police are still on the scene diffusing a hostage situation at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom, Gauteng.

Hostage IPHC

Photo: Supplied

The South African Police Service are in the process of diffusing a hostage situation at a church in Gauteng.

Police reportedly received a call claiming that gunmen had taken hostages at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom. 

Police diffusing hostage situation at IPHC church

It is unclear why the hostages were being kept, though there are rumours that the incident relates to a dispute between church members.

Police have arrested 30 suspects and confiscated 25 firearms. The scene remains active though, and police have urged people in the area to steer clear of the church.

Hostage negotiators and a tactical response team remain at the church with SANDF members deployed to assist law enforcement.

Police have confirmed that five people have died, but it is unclear if the deceased were among the assailants or the hostages.

“Police in the early hours of this morning were alerted to a hostage situation and shooting at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom. 

“Since their arrival at the scene around 03h00, police have up to this point arrested about 30 suspects and seized more than 25 firearms. 

“Five fatalities are confirmed. 

“The scene is still active with SAPS Hostage Negotiators, the TRT, Special Task Force, Air Support and the SANDF on the ground.”

International Pentecost Holiness Church leadership struggle

The International Pentecost Holiness Church bases its headquarters in Zuurbekom. The denomination is among the largest African initiated Christian churches in Southern Africa. 

International Pentecost Holiness Church leader Comforter Glayton Modise’s death threw the church into a dispute regarding leadership with his sons Leonard and Tshepiso vying for control.

Leonard Modise has previously occupied church buildings by force during the dispute.

The church is now divided into three factions, following the death its leader, who died without a will and allegedly having not anointed his successor. 

Modise died on 9 February 2016, plunging the church into its current crisis which is believed to be behind the standoff at Zuurbekom.

It is not yet known which of the three factions are the aggressors in this scenario, or indeed if the hostage situation is even related to the church dispute in any way.

The large number of suspects arrested suggests that the incident is unlikely to have been a robbery gone wrong, and those in the know have suggested this is the latest drama in a four-year-long saga of intrigue at the church.

This is a developing story, we will bring you updates as they become available.