3 arrested for attempted murder at church
Rustenburg – “Our congregation is shocked and traumatised beyond words. Nevertheless, now is the time to flock together and stand strong,” Bishop Isaac Mokgope of New Covenant Fellowship International in Rustenburg said in an interview with the Platinum Weekly newspaper.
The Rustenburg Police arrested the three culprits on charges of business robbery and four counts of attempted murder, Sergeant Kelebogile Moleko, police spokesperson, confirmed. The Rustenburg Cluster Trio Task Team arrested two suspects, aged 31 and 35, in the early hours of Monday, 20 March 2017 in Boitekong. The third suspect was arrested at the church.
Three men, two armed, entered church, during the Sunday service at approximately 10h45 on 19 March 2017, and opened fire on churchgoers.
“We heard a gunshot go off and men yelling to lie down on the ground,” Bishop Mokgope said. “Three men walked in and fired another two shots in the air, with what looked like 9mm pistols. The one gunman demanded cell phones and cash. The other armed man walked up to me and pointed his gun to my chest, demanding cash, cell phones and a firearm, upon which I replied that I have no weapons.”
Members of the church were assaulted and four members were shot while their bags were ransacked and they were searched for valuables.
“One of our churchgoers is recovering in Life Peglerae hospital, two in Job Shimankana Tabane hospital, and the fourth member was discharged from hospital since the incident,” Bishop Mokgope said.
“When I saw my people bleeding, I snapped out of the initial shock and decided to take action. The two armed men were moving around, in and out of the building all the time. When both were outside at the same time, I shut the slam lock security door. They shouted something that sounded like ‘Molifi is still inside!’ and then took off, leaving their unarmed gang member inside the locked church. Our members quickly tied him up while the police were summoned,” Bishop Mokgope said.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members for their bravery, prayers and support. I also thank our brothers and sisters of other churches for their supporting messages, as well as our political figures for their support during this time. Thank God that no lives were lost during this ordeal. Our service will go on undisturbed, this Sunday at 09h00,” Bishop Mokgope said.
The three gang members appeared before the Rustenburg Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 22 March 2017.
The North West Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane condemned the incident and indicated that incidents such as this will not be tolerated. She also commended the Police for their quick response that led to arrest of the last two suspects.
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