Law enforcement agencies praised for thwarting IPHC ‘coup’

Christians of South Africa (COSA)
Christians of South Africa (COSA)

PRETORIA, July 12 (ANA) – Christians of South Africa (COSA), led by its president Derick Mosoana, has complimented law enforcement agencies for swift intervention which led to the arrest of alleged attackers at the Leonard Modise-led International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) headquarters in Zuurbekom, Gauteng province. 

“We compliment all security clusters for the prompt response in the hostage situation. Sad to note that amongst the 40 arrested rebels, there are law enforcement officials from the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, the South African National Defence Force, and the South African Police Service. We call on the justice system to collapse this terrorist group masquerading as members of the IPHC,” said Mosoana. 

He said it was disturbing that the ongoing leadership dispute in the popular church continued to claim lives. 

“This act of terrorism comes regrettably at a time where the church in South Africa is under siege, with proposed state regulations, a deprived voice within government corridors,” said Mosoana. 

The cleric described the attack as “a failed coup d’état”. 

At least 41 men, arrested during the attack, appeared in the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property.  

“In the early hours of Saturday, 11 July 2020 the South African Police Service (SAPS) responded to an incident of shooting wherein it was alleged that a group of men stormed into the church yard armed with rifles, shotguns and pistols and started attacking security personnel as well residents of the church compound,” the National Prosecuting Authority’s Gauteng spokesperson, Phindi Mjonondwane said. 

She said police units that attended to the crime scene managed to rescue the people that were held hostage, including women and children.  

“Two of the suspects were injured during the cross-fire between the alleged assailants and the church’s security officials. They are currently hospitalised and will appear in court as soon as they are released from hospital,” said Mjonondwane. 

“An attorney, a member of the South African National Defence Army (SANDF) and a SAPS official are amongst the accused that appeared in court today (Monday). All accused were remanded in custody till Wednesday, 15 July 2020 for further investigations.” 

On Sunday, a day after the attack of the IPHC headquarters allegedly by a rival faction seeking to take control, Leonard Modise appealed for intervention to stop the bloodshed. At least five people were killed in the takeover bid on Saturday morning. 

“This is a church of peace, a church of love and a church which heals. The people who attacked this place yesterday (Saturday) were here to hijack God’s land. We are begging you to help us, as law enforcement agencies,” said Modise, younger son of the late church leader ‘Comforter’ Glayton Modise, who died in 2016. 

The well-known church, which boasts a three-million strong membership in South Africa and neighbouring countries, has been engulfed in a bitter three-way conflict to succeed Glayton Modise, who “inherited” the church from his father and founder ‘Comforter’ Frederick Samuel Modise in 1998. 

There has been intensive conflict between the three main contenders – Glayton Modise’s two sons Frederick Leonard Goitsemang and Tshepiso, and Michael Sandlana, reportedly Modise’s son out of wedlock – to take over the reins of the church. 

Leonard Modise has in the past told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that his late father publicly and lawfully anointed him to be his successor before he died. Leonard Modise leads the IPHC group based at the Silo headquarters church in Zuurbekom. The other two contenders run different church splinter groups elsewhere.  

Tshepiso Modise currently leads one of the biggest IPHC branches in Springs, east of Johannesburg, while Sandlana leads the splinter church from the Jerusalem branch in Pretoria. 

– African News Agency; Editing by Desiree Erasmus