Church, crèche ruined

2016-03-22 06:00
The building of the Eastridge Baptist Church, and the adjoining educare centre, in Fox Street are in ruins after a robbery that led to a fire that destroyed the church last Monday. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

The building of the Eastridge Baptist Church, and the adjoining educare centre, in Fox Street are in ruins after a robbery that led to a fire that destroyed the church last Monday. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Police have arrested three men after a burglary which led to a fire that destroyed a church in Fox Street last week.

Police were alerted to a fire at the East­ridge Baptist Church after midnight.

Mitchell’s Plain police spokesperson Lieutenant Ian Williams confirms police were called out to a report of arson.

“Suspects had broken into the church and stolen items out of the church. The church was then found alight by neighbours,” says Williams.

The cause of the blaze is currently unknown and an investigation has been opened.

The church building was completely destroyed in the blaze and with it, the adjoining early childhood development centre that served more than 100 children.

On Monday morning, children attending the educare were sent home.

Some of the damage includes the loss of educational materials, seating and musical instruments.

The cost of the damage is unknown at this stage but Pastor Bennie Dreyer estimates it to be at least R2m.

“The cost of replacing the sound equipment alone is around R240 000,” says Dreyer.

Williams says police sector commanders on the scene followed up on information received from the community.

“This led to the recovery of two speakers, a gas stove, gas tank, microwave, urn, tape and two speaker stands which was identified as the church’s property,” he says.

The items were recovered at a house in Rigolleto Street, Eastridge.

Three suspects were arrested on a charge of housebreaking and theft. The suspects are aged 26, 37 and 35 years and remain in custody.

A separate case of arson is also being investigated.

Dreyer says the church has hired two containers to help get the educare centre back up and running while the rebuilding of the centre and church gets underway.

The church will also set up a tent on the property to allow for the Easter Mass and house services and meetings to continue.

The church building will be cleared soon as the asbestos roofing poses a threat to the residents living near the church.

Dreyer says they have received support from other churches in Mitchell’s Plain.

“We are trying to raise R28 000 to buy a tent that will then become the church’s property,” says Dreyer.

It could take at least five months before the church will be rebuilt, he estimates.

Dreyer says there is a lot the church needs as everything was lost in the blaze.

These needs include educational materials, books, puzzles, toys, mats, sleeping mattresses, children’s chairs and tables, chairs for the church, instruments and decor. But that is not a priority at the moment, Dreyer says.

V If you would like to donate money or items to the church call Pastor Bennie Dreyer on 073 260 7905 or Gary Bawman on 083 969 3030 or email bdreyer@­ or V Anyone with information on the incident is urged to call the investigating officer, detective Constable Masixole Mdingi, on 021 370 1782 or 079 498 6620.

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