Pastor says God helped ex-cop defend congregants during robbery

'It’s unfortunate there was a loss of life but it was really between them and us'

The trio had stormed into the church service, holding congregants at gunpoint. Stock photo.
The trio had stormed into the church service, holding congregants at gunpoint. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Goran Bogicevic

Querencia Ministries pastor Kobus Erasmus is glad that the system has cleared congregant Pieter van der Westhuizen, who drew his firearm and fired shots at robbers who had targeted churchgoers in 2020.

Van der Westhuizen, an ex-policeman, allegedly pulled out his own firearm during the botched robbery in July and shots were fired. Two suspects were killed. A third ran off.

Van der Westhuizen's legal representative Ulrich Roux said on Tuesday that the police confirmed during their investigation that his actions in all probability resulted in the prevention of any innocent churchgoers being hurt or killed by the robbers.

He said charges against his client were withdrawn and the docket had been closed by the police.

“We are glad that the system is also free and righteous because he helped us that day,” the pastor told TimesLIVE on Wednesday. “We are happy, glad and thankful and we think this was the grace of God that helped us through this.”

Erasmus said it took a few months for the church to recover and some members were still edgy due to the incident.

“We are taking this as a testimony of what the Lord has done, so it’s not the trauma but the testimony that stands out for everyone. We change it from trauma to testimony and that helped the assembly to go through this thing without any fears. The assembly grew like nothing because of this also,” he said.

“I don’t think that Pieter has the ability himself to do what he did, I believe even in that — there is no doubt that even with all his skills, it was the Lord that helped him also to defend us.

“It’s unfortunate that there was a loss of life but it was really between them and us.

“The people actually moved on and it is now a big testimony for everyone.”

Van der Westhuizen is the brother of the late Springbok rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen.

According to earlier police reports, three suspects stormed into the church during a service and robbed congregants at gunpoint. They repeatedly pistol-whipped the pastor, before forcibly taking valuables from members of the congregation. Erasmus sustained minor injuries and was treated on site.

The police recovered one firearm at the scene.

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