An investigating officer in the case of attack on the International Pentecost Holiness Church (IPHC), Sergeant George Matsitse, has dismissed claims by the accused that they were not arrested at the crime scene.
Fourty-two suspects are charged with the murder of five people, attempted murder and possession of ammunition at the Westonaria Magistrates Court.
On Thursday Matsitse told the court that it is unlikely that some of the suspects travelled from as far as Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Pretoria to a place where they did not have any business with.
“They came with the same purpose to take over the church. That is my take. None of them have the dealings with the church, none of them are church members,” he said.
“At 2am your worship, you wake up, you come as far Harrismith, Mpumalanga and you come to a place you don’t even come to a church to. It only brings one conclusion… that they came there knowing what to do,” he told the court.
Matsitse said the Toyota Quantum minibus used in the attack was reported stolen in KwaDukuza in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Yes I do have a strong case your worship. Actually the white Quantum they were using was reported stolen. The registration number and disc are falsified. The vehicle was stolen in KwaDukuza in August 2019,” he said.
He added that it was the first time such an event happened in South Africa.
“This is unprecedented in our country. You only see such events in other countries where people commit a coupde’tat. You can see these people planned this thing (attack) and they were ready to do whatever they wanted to do,” he said.
He also said if the traffic department did not come to the scene “we could be talking a different story now”.
Some suspects have other criminal cases pending against them such as for assault, theft, contempt of court and other charges.
Matsitse added that more than 300 cartridges were found at the IPHC attack scene and that police arrested other suspects who were running away from the place.
Magistrate Gavin Pillay postponed the matter to 4 August.