At loss for words: SA Council of Churches ‘shocked’ after daring robbery of congregants at SDA Church in Joburg

Seventh Day Adventist Church. Photo: Facebook

Seventh Day Adventist Church. Photo: Facebook

Published Nov 29, 2022


Pretoria - General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, said he was shocked by the daring robbery of congregants inside the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Joburg CBD during a service on Saturday.

“The majority of worshippers in this country are extremely poor people. These are people who give of themselves in worship in a way that you do not find in affluent societies. The place of worship, the last time we had this kind of violation of places of worship was in apartheid days. The apartheid security forces would ram into churches,” Mpumlwana spoke to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

“We have never imagined that in democratic South Africa. The levels of crime would be such that the place of worship, which is naturally referred to as a sanctuary, would be a place of terror. This is beyond imagination.”

He said the SACC has reached out to the SDA church in Joburg, and the leadership of the church fear that trauma will make congregants stay away from places of worship.

General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana. File Picture: Paballo Thekiso

Last month, Pastor Vincent Skhakhane was killed at the Holiness Christian Revival Ministries during a prayer service in Diepsloot, near Midrand.

“It’s tragic, not only because of the trauma it causes on congregants and pastors. Hot on the heels of that (attack at Holiness Christian Revival Ministries), this attack happens. I was talking to Pastor Ntshangase, who is a senior pastor of that congregation that was attacked on Saturday. He said the trauma people are experiencing. It is almost like they will be fearful to go to worship.

“He asked himself what kind of protection can we call for. It is impossible to have police in every congregation, watching it. That is beyond consideration. Poor communities do not have the capacity to employ security services to protect them. They do not search people coming into church. Churches are supposed to be open to anybody who walks in anytime,” said Mpumlwana.

“That is exactly what we were arguing about in the days of Covid when some said we should only allow people who are vaccinated. We said we can’t do that. And there we are now. I am at a loss for words.”

Police in Gauteng vowed to trace and bring to book the gunmen who stormed the church and robbed congregants during a service on Saturday.

“Gauteng police have opened a business robbery docket after congregants in a church in the Johannesburg CBD were robbed of their belongings,” Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo 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.”

The suspects later walked out of the church.

Kweza said no one was injured, and none of the robbers had been arrested yet.

Gauteng acting provincial commissioner Major-General Tommy Mthombeni condemned the attack on the church.

Mthombeni pledged 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 0860 010 111 or their nearest police station.