Thu, 06 Aug 2020

A church hostage drama has left five people dead and 30 arrested in Zuurbekom, Gauteng, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

According to police, the incident took place at the International Pentecost Holiness Church. Police responded to reports of a hostage situation and shooting at around 03:00.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said more than 25 firearms had been seized.

"The scene is still active with SAPS hostage negotiators," Peters said.

In November 2018, two factions from the church confronted each other outside the church's headquarters in Silo, Zuurbekom, west of Johannesburg, News24 reported.

The clash took place when a convoy of vehicles carrying worshippers arrived and parked outside the church.

Former Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo at the time said: "As they were about to enter the church premises, another group which was inside the church charged at them. They confronted each other. During their confrontation, firearms were pulled out and three people were injured.

READ | Police visibility beefed up as 2 rival church groups clash in Joburg

"One was shot in his shoulder. The three injured men were taken to hospital. We managed to seize loaded firearms."

About 12 cars belonging to church members were badly damaged in the skirmish. Items from inside the damaged vehicles were strewn on the street.

Clashes over the leadership of the church have led to several court battles, following the death of the church's leader Glayton Modise. The church has over 3 million worshipers from South Africa and neighbouring countries.

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