A Toyota Quantum transporting some of the 42 people linked to the International Pentecost Holiness Church attack in Zuurbekom on the West Rand was reportedly stolen.
On 11 July, five people died and several cars were set alight in an attack on the church.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant George Matsitse told the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court the vehicle was reportedly stolen in KwaZulu-Natal in August 2019.
Police confiscated the vehicle together with several others that were found outside the church premises.
“Registration numbers and licence disc of the Quantum are falsified. With the engine and chassis numbers, we managed to track down that the vehicle was stolen in KwaDukuza in KwaZulu-Natal last year,” Matsitse said.
Police arrested 14 people in the vehicle and recovered a pistol with the serial number filed off.
Four other accused in a white BMW M5 were cornered and arrested.
Three other accused were placed inside the church premises by witnesses.
Some accused were caught while leaving the church premises.
Matsitse said police have managed to obtain 22 statements from witnesses.
“We have now purified a batch of cellphones recovered from the possession of some of the suspects.”
Matsitse said more charges of kidnapping and the possession of a stolen vehicle could be added.
“The accused came with one [thing in] mind there, armed with firearms that were questionable. People died there because of actions of the accused. Three of the accused have separate criminal records for theft, [being in] contempt of court, possession of unlicensed firearm, ammunition and robbery,” Matsitse said.
“The accused have all claimed they were arrested outside the premises of the church. According to witnesses, some of the accused were seen inside the church. People residing inside the church were taken from their houses where they were sleeping, to the main house where they were locked inside.
“Some of the victims were at the church [for] healing as they were sick. I believe that the accused came with the same purpose to take over the church. They came there to do what they did.
“I have a strong case against the accused. They were armed with guns that are questionable. People were killed and some were robbed. I don’t want them to be granted bail, even if they have been barred from Zuurbekom. There is no guarantee that they will not visit the crime scene. My job is to protect witnesses.”
The case was adjourned until 4 August.
– News24 Wire