Vindicated by courts, IPHC Jerusalem goes after Zuurbekom killers to seek justice for widows
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Pretoria – Buoyed by the recent withdrawal of murder charges against its 42 members, who had been charged by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the aftermath of the deadly violence at Zuurbekom in 2020, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) Jerusalem led by “successor” Michael Sandlana is now demanding that the real killers be unmasked.
“We are grateful that justice has prevailed in a fair manner which vindicates us. We are now placing our trust into the hands of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) to open an inquest into the death of our five church members,” said IPHC Jerusalem spokesperson Priest Vusi Ndala who addressed media alongside Sandlana’s spokesperson Tshepo Phuthi.
“Our father will not rest until the killers of his children are put behind bars. Our plea to the NPA is that all those that were present at the scene and have the knowledge about the incident of the 11th of July must appear before the judge that will be appointed for the death inquiry.”
Ndala said the 42 members of the IPHC Jerusalem had been reprehensively paraded as the killers in the July 2020 as part of a cover-up which involves certain members of the South African Police Service.
The group of men had made court appearances in the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court charged with murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property.
In a turn of events, the court struck the cases off the roll and the IPHC at Jerusalem on Thursday insisted the SAPS had failed dismally in its bid to pin the 42 people to the “Zuurbekom massacre” where five people were killed in the headquarters of the Leonard Modise-led splinter group of the IPHC.
“The leader of the Zuurbekom faction, known as BGB, Leonard Modise, affectionately known as Morena Jakobo, and all those that made defaming allegations against the IPHC in Jerusalem must also appear before the inquiry. Leonard Modise unequivocally placed himself on record that he was present at the scene when the crime was committed,” Ndala told journalists on Thursday.
“The police top brass who arrived at the scene and made arrests in a very questionable manner must also appear before the inquiry. We are appealing that justice be served for the families that lost their loved ones.”
Some of the families and widows of the five men who lost their lives at Zuurbekom attended the media briefing in Pretoria.
“The message from our father to the IPHC members congregating at Jerusalem is that he will not rest until the killers of his children are arrested,” Ndala emphasized.
Phuthi added that the SAPS has not acted on any cases opened by the IPHC Jerusalem but has often charged Sandlana on different allegations.
“We have made it abundantly clear that, as the IPHC, we strongly believe that the South African Police Service has had a strong hand in these cases. I am talking here about cases like Zuurbekom and others. Money remains the common interest and/or motivator shared by all stakeholders involved in the campaign to dethrone our father as spiritual leader of the IPHC,” said Phuthi.
“Priest Ndala has elaborated extensively on the fraud attempts made at ABSA and FNB to access IPHC money, all reported to the SAPS. In addition to the fraud attempts, there are other violent cases we reported to SAPS to no avail.”
He said all cases opened with the SAPS by the Jerusalem faction fell into “a black bottomless pit”.
“Absolutely nothing came from all the cases we opened with police,” said Phuthi.
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 Bishop Glayton Modise, who had inherited it from his father and founder Frederick Samuel Modise in 1998.
There has been an intensive conflict between the three main contenders – Glayton Modise's two sons Frederick Leonard Goitsemang and Tshepiso, and Michael Sandlana, reported in the media as Glayton Modise's son out of wedlock – to take over the reins of the vast church.
Leonard Modise leads the IPHC group based at Zuurbekom, while Sandlana and Tshepiso run their churches elsewhere.
Sandlana reportedly leads about 90 percent of the church branches and has the support of most IPHC priests on the church council.