Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church has distanced itself from a former pastor who was arrested this week for poaching.
ECG said in a statement on Thursday pastor Nicolus Mgiba was once assigned to the Phalaborwa branch in Limpopo.
“We would like, as a church, to underline to all our members, stakeholders, followers, supporters and the general public that directors of the church suspended Mgiba early this year due to internal disciplinary issues,” the church said.
“His arrest this week, therefore, is solely a matter of him as a person.”
Mgiba, 45, Bento Mendose, 44, and Zalcbrel Baloyi, 28, appeared in the Hoedspruit periodical court on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit illegal hunting.
Limpopo police spokesperson Col Moatshe Ngoepe said in a statement on Wednesday they were denied bail and their cases were postponed to June 12 for bail applications.
They were arrested near Hoedspruit after the police received information about an illegal hunting criminal syndicate. The suspects were arrested while they were driving along the R40 on Monday.
“The motor vehicle with the same description was spotted along the same road and the police ordered it to stop but the suspects did not cooperate and continued to drive,” Ngoepe said.
“The motor vehicle chase ensued until these suspects started to shoot at the police who retaliated and one of the suspects was shot and arrested with other two.”
The police recovered one hunting rifle, one silencer, ammunition, a knife and an axe.
Sunday Times reported in February this year that about 250 members of the ECG Mpumalanga branch reported that they were out of pocket after allegedly investing about R10m with Mgiba, who is CEO of Merger Chen Solutions (MCS). They reported the losses to church leaders and the Hawks.
According to a document that investors claim was given to them by MCS and which Sunday Times saw, congregants were promised huge returns. Those who invested R200,000 were promised R11.5m after six months. Those who invested R1m were promised R57.6m in six months. Most investors were said to be retired people.
MCS has no official links to the church. The only link is that Mgiba was a pastor at ECG.