23 Limpopo church congregants arrested after violent weekend rampage
Congregants who assaulted each other and damaged vehicles during a rampage at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Limpopo at the weekend have been arrested.
The police in Mahwelereng outside Mokopane said on Sunday they had arrested 23 members of the church aged between 14 and 23 for various offences, including public violence.
The arrests follow violence between congregants on Saturday, January 12, at about 3pm at Danisani village in the Mapela area.
"It is alleged that two rival groups of the church had an altercation during a church service where other members went on the rampage and started assaulting several people and damaged vehicles which were parked within the church premises," police said in a statement.
"The police were summoned to the scene, reacted swiftly and arrested 23 suspects for public violence, assault to cause grievous bodily harm, common assault and malicious damage to property."
During the arrests, the police confiscated more than 20 petrol bombs, one knife, four big sticks and a five-litre container.
Two church members were taken to hospital after sustaining serious injuries.
The suspects will appear before the Mokerong magistrate’s court on Monday.
The provincial commissioner of police, Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba, has condemned the violent behaviour of the congregants.
“We urge religious groups and all community members to settle their differences in a peaceful and legal manner rather than indulging in acts of violence,” said Ledwaba.
The church has been wracked with feuding following the death of its leader‚ Glayton Modise‚ in February 2016, with disagreements over which of Modise’s children should succeed him.
In November last year, violent clashes broke out between congregants at its church in Zuurbekom‚ west of Johannesburg.