Pretoria – Police in Gauteng have vowed to trace and bring to book gunmen who robbed congregants inside the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Joburg CBD during a service on Saturday.
Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza said a case of business robbery was opened.
“Gauteng police have opened a business robbery docket after congregants in a church in the Johannesburg CBD were robbed of their belongings,” Kweza said.
“A group of six armed suspects walked into the church at midday and demanded personal items from the congregants. They threatened the churchgoers with firearms.”
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The suspects later walked out of the church.
Kweza said no one was injured and none of the perpetrators have been arrested yet.
Meanwhile, Gauteng acting provincial commissioner Major-General Tommy Mthombeni has condemned the attack on the church.
Mthombeni pledged that police in Gauteng “will do everything to bring the perpetrators to book”.
“Churchgoers should be allowed to go about their business peacefully,” said Mthombeni.
Anyone with information can contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111 or their nearest police station.
Speaking to The Star, church deacon Prince Thebe said: “We were just in the middle of the service, and about six guys came in, pointed guns at us, and started asking money for offerings and cellphones.
“When the first guy came in, he went to the front seat, and while sitting there, he kept looking around and moving seats. The other deacon went to him and asked him what he wanted. He said, ‘I’m visiting, and I don’t know where to sit.’ He then suddenly stood up and went out.
“A few minutes later, a group of guys stomped inside the church, from the right and left sides of the doors. One went straight to the preacher in the front, pointed a gun at him, and told him to lie down. The other guys were busy with the congregation, walking pew by pew and collecting cellphones. They then asked for the money for offerings, and we showed them the basket. They took the money and ran off.”
Earlier this year, Joburg detectives arrested two people aged 38 and 40 for a robbery inside the Methodist Church on the corner of Pritchard and Small streets.
Police spokesperson in Joburg central, Captain Xoli Mbele, said the pair have been linked to the robbery at the church.
“It is alleged that five suspects robbed the Methodist Church on May 30 at 1am. A pastor and his wife were asleep, when they were woken by the suspects,” said Mbele.
“They demanded money because they had information that there was a Thanksgiving Day before in the church. They ransacked the church, took televisions, laptops, music equipment, the wedding ring of the preacher’s wife and an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing.
Mbele said this month, two suspects were arrested by security guards at the same church in connection with a business burglary.