Forty-two suspects arrested in connection with murders at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) in Zuurbekom, Gauteng, were released on Tuesday on R5,000 bail each.
Bail was granted in the Westonaria magistrate’s court. The case was postponed to November 27 to allow for further investigation.
Lawyers representing the 42 men concluded their bail application arguments last week.
A police officer, a member of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and a lawyer were among those arrested after the fatal hostage drama on July 11.
At the crime scene, police found four bodies with bullet wounds. Two bodies were burnt beyond recognition. A fifth person was alive but partially burnt. A member of the SANDF was rushed to Leratong hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
Advocate Barry Roux, who represents 21 of the suspects, argued that police had not done enough to establish who shot the suspects.
He accused investigating officer Sgt George Maditse of being biased towards the church.
Police have ascribed the incident to “organised crime”.
The attackers “drove from as far as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo to come and do this evil deed,” according to Maditse’s affidavit.
“None of the 42 bail applicants is a member of the IPHC in Zuurbekom,” said Maditse. “The applicants kidnapped church congregants and put them in one place. Among the congregants were the sickly, old people and children who are traumatised until this day.”
Squabbling in the church dates back to 2016, when Bishop Glayton Modise died intestate, reported the Financial Mail. He left a legacy worth R400m, including R50m in cash and several properties. The issue of his successor is the subject of a court dispute. There are two challengers to the incumbent leader, his son Leonard.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)