Cape Town - Congregants at a Constantia church were left traumatised after three armed robbers conned their way inside.
One of the assailants pretended to be sick to gain access to The People’s Church – Assembly of God in Constantia on Friday at around 6pm.
Minister Geoff Bond said the suspects were armed with guns and a knife.
“There were six people in the church who were here for the youth programme. They held them up, told them to lie on the ground before tying the four men up with cellphone chargers and bag straps. They told them not to look at them, then put on gloves. They took their cellphones and cash. They told victims they didn’t want to hurt them and they asked for the safe. We don’t keep money at the church.
“They couldn’t lock them in the room so they herded them into the bathroom and told them to stay there. The victims were not sure when the suspects left because after some time they went to check and the assailants were gone.”
He said the suspects stole a congregant’s car, a VW Polo GTi.
“The victim is from Namibia and he begged them not to take his passport with them. When they were freed they found his passport inside the church. They came back and dropped it off. I believe that one of the suspects kept apologising for doing this to the church. There was a lot that they could have taken but their focus was on the car.”
Bond said churches had become soft targets.
“Our role is to be kind to people in need, which places us in a difficult situation, but we also have to be sensible and take precautions.
“We have security measures in place but someone was conned. The gate was left open because someone was coming. We usually keep the gates closed but on Friday evenings with people coming and going preparing for the youth programme, the traffic gate happens to be open.
“The suspect then rang the bell at the security gate because he couldn’t get in, he said he was sick and asked if he could use the toilet. They opened for him and let him in out of kindness. He then let two others (in).”
The minister said the victims were offered two-hour counselling sessions.
Police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie said that the Diep River SAPS had opened a business robbery case for further investigation.
He appealed to anyone with information to contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111.