Police on Thursday confirmed that a man was wounded in a shooting emanating from church rivalry in Zuurbekom‚ Randfontein‚ west of Johannesburg‚ on Thursday.
Church members‚ some in their blue and white church uniform and others in the maroon and white‚ who claimed to be from Limpopo‚ Mpumalanga and Mozambique‚ told said that they were driving up to the church premises when they were stopped in their tracks by another faction of the church who had cordoned off the road‚ telling them to go back.
“We found the road closed with several vehicles. We got out of our vehicles to inquire what was happening and we were told that we have no right to be at the church. All of a sudden there were rocks being thrown. We started running once we started hearing the gunfire‚” said one church member from Mpumalanga‚ who refused to give his name.
Some fled on foot‚ while others tried to jump into their vehicles to flee. Asked whether he knew the attackers‚ the church member said: “I can’t say we know them but some of them we know as church members.”
Another church member said that the armed men believed to have been leading the attackers were from a security company.
Meanwhile‚ a man residing close to the church premises told the publication that the first faction of the church members had arrived on Wednesday evening.
“They closed the road with a big truck which belongs to the church. They said 'No one goes in or out'. The second group arrived this morning. Before they arrived‚ at around 7am‚ I heard the singing of church songs‚” said the neighbour‚ who expressed fear at having his name published.
He claimed that the two groups were holding talks when all of a sudden the talking was halted and stones and bullets flew.
“The people who were shooting did not look like church members‚” said the resident‚ who captured the moments prior to the shooting on his phone. “They were heavily armed‚” he said.