News24 Wire
2 minute read
5 Aug 2020
6:33 pm

Church attack: State ‘riding a dead horse’, says lawyer representing 17 accused

News24 Wire

A member of the SANDF is in hospital after sustaining severe burn wounds.

Scenes from the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC)  in Zuurbekom are pictured, 11 July 2020.  The South African Police Service has confirmed the arrest of over 40 suspects and the seizure of more than 34 firearms after being alerted to a hostage situation and shootout at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC)  in Zuurbekom, Johannesburg in the early hours of Saturday morning. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark  

On 11 July, the IPHC came under heavy gunfire which resulted in five people losing their lives.

Among the deceased, four were set alight.

Four bodies have been identified, while one that was burnt beyond recognition had not been identified.

A member of the SANDF is in hospital after sustaining severe burn wounds.

Forty-two men were also arrested.

Eric Bryer, who represents two of the suspects, told the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday that his clients were members of the church.

Bryer disputed earlier evidence by Detective Sergeant George Maditse that the 42 suspects were part of a faction that broke away from the IPHC.

Faction

Maditse said the faction had their own church known as the International Pentecost Church Choir based in Brits, North West.

Maditse said the accused arrived at the IPHC headquarters in the wee hours of the morning armed with the intention to take over its leadership.

“IPHC is a huge church. My clients might belong to another branch of the church, but are still members of the (IPHC) church. They can be representing the Brits faction and it doesn’t matter which congregation they belong to because they are still members of the same church.

“The accused didn’t go there (Zuurbekom) for a coup. They have justified reasons to go and assist at the IPHC,” said Bryer.

Eric Mphatswe, who represents 17 of the suspects, said the State’s case was based on a doctrine of common purpose and that his clients were innocent.

Also read: Alleged IPHC attackers to hear their fate next week

Siege

He said his clients were security guards responding to a call that the IPHC headquarters were under siege.

“This could not have been a planned attack because they didn’t even parade before they went to the church. They were not given instructions on what to do for the day.

“The State must prove the doctrine of common cause. The State must prove intent against the accused. The accused were not at the scene at all,” Mphatswe said.

Mphatswe said the State could not prove anything against the accused because it was “riding on a dead horse”.

The case continues on 11 August.

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