Bibles destroyed as Gomorrah residents ransack church during protests

2019-04-11 20:54
Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk in Pretoria West, vandalised during a protest (Photographer: Alex Mitchley)

Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk in Pretoria West, vandalised during a protest (Photographer: Alex Mitchley)

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A pastor is trying to pick up the pieces after his church was looted and vandalised during protest action in Pretoria West on Thursday.

During the protests at Gomorrah informal settlement, a small group of people stoned the church, the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk Wesmoot, breaking the stained windows.

They also attempted to petrol bomb the church and later broke in and ransacked it. They stole a laptop, speakers and fans.

LIVE: Burning tyres, shops looted in Tshwane protests

Benches and bibles were broken and a wooden cross was thrown on the floor.

A pained and emotional pastor, Rudi Botha, told News24 that repairing the damage would likely cost thousands.

He did not want to comment on how he felt about what happened, saying: "I don't think you want to hear what I will say about that."

When asked if the church and community would be safe, Botha questioned whether anyone was safe in South Africa.

Church, Vandalism, Ransacked

Inside the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk in Pretoria West, which was vandalised during a protest (Alex Mitchley, News24)

Police arrested several people, believed to have been behind the vandalising and looting of the church.

Running battles

Protesters from Gomorrah and police clashed for several hours on Thursday.

Thousands of rubber rounds were fired at protesters and teargas and stun grenades were launched, while protesters hit back by throwing stones, petrol bombs and using sling shots.

During the running battles, a police officer was injured after a rock hit his face.

The clashes continued throughout the day as the police pushed the protesters back into the informal settlement, before the protesters pushed the police back to Van der Hoff Road in Pretoria West.

News24 also observed how residents and security guards from private security companies, who stood on the same side as police, threw rocks back at protesters. One man even used a slingshot.

Several communities hit by protests

Pretoria West is one of several communities that were rocked by protests on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, burning tyres, rocks and rubble blocked several roads in Hammanskraal on the outskirts of Pretoria. Plumes of smoke were clearly visible.

Protesters also blocked the N1 highway towards Polokwane. Police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters before clearing the roads.

READ: If Gauteng protests are orchestrated, we'll arrest culprits - SAPS

Speaking to journalists in Hammanskraal, Captain Kay Makhubela said that protests had also flared up in Soshanguve, Vereeniging and Bekkersdal.

He added that cases of public violence had been opened and the police were investigating each of the incidents. 

"If it's found that there are people involved in terms of influencing other people, those people will be arrested," Makhubela said.


A protester arrested in Gomorrah informal settlement during violent clashes with police (Alex Mitchley, News24)

"Our intelligence is on the ground and we are gathering information, so when these protests start the police are already on the ground."

ANC electioneering postponed

The ANC election campaign programme planned for Hammanskraal on Thursday had to be postponed after the protests flared up in the area.

ANC deputy president David Mabuza was supposed to conduct a visit to Hammanskraal for door-to-door campaigning and a community meeting.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  service delivery  |  protests

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