Soweto pastor and his congregants arrested after worshippers attack cops, damage patrol cars
Johannesburg – A pastor of the Unity Fellowship Church and several of his congregants have been arrested after a complaint about noise from the church resulted in an attack on metro police officers.
The officers’ vehicles were damaged and two were taken to hospital to be treated for their injuries.
It all started around 1pm on Sunday when some Soweto residents complained about the noise coming from the church in Midway. Officers found a church in session and many cars parked outside.
Wayne Minnaar of the Johannesburg Metro Police said six officers who arrived at the church were surrounded by a group of “aggressive male church goers” who struck their vehicles.
“Officers used pepper fog to disperse the group and called for backup. Rubber bullets were then used to disperse the aggressive churchgoers who damaged JMPD patrol vehicles and injured two officers.
“One officer had to be taken to Milpark Hospital. Two church goers were also injured. One was taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
“Several church members were arrested, including the pastor of that church. They were charged at Moroka Police Station for public violence, assault, malicious damage to property and contravention of Disaster Management Act, as more than two thousand people were attending the church service.”
Last month, police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a group of about 250 people who had gathered for a church service in Sebokeng Zone 7 in the Vaal. Two church leaders were arrested for contravening level 3 lockdown regulations which did not allow for church services to be held.
A 62-year-old woman was arrested for a similar contravention and for an additional charge of public violence. At the time, police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said when police responded to reports of an illegal gathering at a church in the area, they ordered the congregants to disperse.
“The group is reported to have defied police orders to disperse, and the situation allegedly turned violent when the congregants started throwing chairs at police, who responded by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades.”