"I PRAYED silently as I was pushed around with a gun in my back. I quietly said to God if this is my last day, so be it."
This is how Father Angelicus Dumisani Mchunu described Tuesday night's gunpoint robbery in his Roman Catholic Church in Verulam, north of Durban, when he and members of his congregation were robbed by armed thugs.
Two cars, car keys, earrings, weddings rings, cash, cellphones and wallets belonging to members were taken by six balaclava-clad gunmen who robbed the priest and about 30 members of his congregation.
The visibly-shaken priest said he was about to start mass when he felt that something was not right.
"At the time, members were already inside the church. As I came nearer, I noticed that a door was slightly open, which was unusual. As I was about to enter, an unknown male approached me and demanded my cellphone.
"At first I thought he was a member of the church and handed him the cellphone although I had already switched it off," he said.
Mchunu said when he entered the church, he found all the other members on the floor and five men with guns watching over them.
"Four of them pushed me at gun point to the centre of the church. Other church members started praying loudly. The robbers fled, taking the keys of two cars belonging to members. They also took other things belonging to members," Mchunu said.
He said they were grateful that no one was injured during the ordeal that lasted about 30 minutes.
"After the robbers fled, a member was able to call the police. This is a very sad incident because it happened inside a place of worship," he said.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge said no arrests had been made.
"Police are investigating armed robbery cases and car-jackings," Mdunge said.