‘State’s case weak’: Alleged IPHC attackers get bail of R5K each

SANDF and SAPS search congregants for firearms outside the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. Pictures: Tracy Lee Stark

Magistrate Gavin Pillay said the State’s case was weak and it failed to prove that the accused had common purpose in attacking the church’s headquarters.

The 42 men accused of staging the attack on the International Pentecost Holiness Church in which five people died, were granted bail in the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Their trial was postponed until 27 November 2020.

According to Magistrate Gavin Pillay, the State’s case so far was weak and questionable at this juncture.

He said the State had failed to provide basic evidence which could link the accused to the killing of the five people at the church.

The State had failed to link the accused with the firearms that the police confiscated at the church after the attack and also failed to prove that the accused had common purpose in attacking the church’s headquarters.

Lawyers representing some of the 42 men accused of being behind the attack, earlier claimed the suspects were not linked to the crimes.

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 were identified, while one that was burnt beyond recognition had not been identified.

Eric Bryer, who represents two of the suspects, told the court previously 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.

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.

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”.

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