Port Elizabeth – Journalists were allegedly attacked and manhandled by dozens of men standing outside the Jesus Dominion International Church in Port Elizabeth on Thursday after they visited the church to conduct interviews.
A Nigerian pastor, based in Durban was arrested at the Port Elizabeth Airport on charges of human trafficking – following his arrest reporters visited a church situated in North End.
eNca reporter Sandy McCowen said she approached the door of the church and was attacked by a group of at least four men.
McCowen said that she was accompanied by her cameraman Nceba Ntlanganiso and another journalist Norhi Manona, from who she was later separated from during the attack.
"I just about said hello and wanted to ask if we could speak to congregants to find out how they felt about the pastor being arrested – the next thing these guys descended upon us. They grabbed me by my arm and they pulled me into the church and closed the doors. They pushed Nceba and Norhi outside – I'm not sure what was happening to them because I was now being dragged inside the church," she said.
"While I was being dragged into the church I started screaming and there was a service going on, so I think they decided that this was not a good idea. They then pushed and kicked me out the door – as I was pushed onto the street this taxi came past and literally missed me by inches."
She said she thought she was going to be pulled onto the pulpit to be made an example of.
"I did not know what to expect but I was just really relieved when they pushed me out the front door of the building," she said.
Ntlanganiso said that he was assaulted before even entering the church by a mob of around 20 men.
"We went there not trying to provoke anyone, we went there and the security of the church jumped in front of us and pulled my colleague who nearly got ran over by a taxi. They started beating me on my head, my back, [and] my arms," he said.
He said that he anticipated an incident could occur, so before going to the church he had removed his spectacles.
"I did not fight ... I carried on recording and I have those people's faces on my camera on record," he said.
Both McCowen and Ntlanganiso said they had sustained bruises on their bodies and went to the police station thereafter to open a case of assault.