File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Mokopane - Police in Mahwelereng outside Mokopane have arrested 23 members of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) for various offences including public violence, Limpopo police said on Sunday.

The arrests emanated from an incident of public violence which took place at about 3pm on Saturday afternoon at Danisani village in the Mapela area, Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said.

"It is alleged that two rival groups of the church had an altercation during a church service where other members went on the rampage and started assaulting several people and damaged vehicles which were parked within the church premises," he said.

Police was summoned to the scene and arrested 23 suspects, aged between 14 and 23, for public violence, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, common assault, and malicious damage to property. During the arrests, police confiscated more than 20 petrol bombs, one knife, four "big sticks", and a five-litre container. Two church members were taken to hospital after sustaining serious injuries. 

The suspects would appear in the Mokerong Magistrate's Court on Monday. Police investigations were continuing, Ngoepe said. 

Limpopo police commissioner Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba condemned the violent behaviour of the congregants. “We urge religious groups and all community members to settle their differences in a peaceful and legal manner rather than indulging in acts of violence,” Ledwaba said.

African News Agency (ANA)