JMPD attack: Church leader says congregants were provoked

2017-11-13 19:55
(Screen grab from video)

(Screen grab from video)

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Johannesburg - A Revelation Church of God leader has condemned the violence that took place in Johannesburg on Sunday when congregants attacked a metro police officer.

However, Derrick Sibisi said that the unarmed congregants had been provoked.

Sibisi added that the matter could have been dealt with differently if it had received support from the mayor's office, which congregants apparently wrote to a month ago.

The incident was captured on video and shared on social media.

WATCH: Church-goers beat metro police officer for towing illegally parked car

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officer and his colleague allegedly towed an illegally parked car, which belonged to a member of the church and which was causing traffic congestion. 

However, after firing warning shots, he was disarmed, attacked and beaten unconscious.

The city identified the officer as Siphiwe Sebati.

Sibisi told News24 that the church did not condone what took place on Sunday morning, but added that things could have been different if they had received support from the office of the mayor in the City of Johannesburg.

"We wrote to the office of the mayor and the MMC [Michael Sun] a month ago to assist us to remove squatters who are illegally dwelling on the land that we have bought. They have not responded to us," Sibisi said.

Sibisi added that the land would have been used for parking space and "to accommodate our 20 000 congregants who come to the church every Sunday and end up sitting outside".

Sibisi said the church was alerted by a source on Friday that the JMPD was going to interrupt their church service on Sunday, apparently because they were a "nuisance church".

He claimed that the congregants were provoked by the JMPD officer, adding that they were unarmed.

"The officer could have talked to the people instead of firing shots and telling us that we are telling him how to do his job. He fired the shots at his own risk. Our members wanted to disarm him, and you can see in the video that the other officers did not support him. The gun is what provoked our members," he said.

News24 was unable to get in touch with representatives from the mayor’s office.

However, Sun said he did not recall receiving such a letter.

He said it was up to the church, as land owners, to apply for an interdict or a court order to remove the illegal squatters.

"It is difficult to accept this in response to the violence that they inflicted on the police officer… I have, since this morning, openly invited the church to do the correct thing and hand over the names of the criminals they are harbouring," Sun said.

ALSO READ: New video emerges of police officers raiding a church following an attack on a police officer

A suspect was arrested at the Johannesburg Central Police Station on Sunday after handing over the gun of the officer.

The person is expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

The officer has since been discharged from Milpark Hospital.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said in a statement that he was happy that the police had made an arrest.

"These were JMPD officers carrying out their lawful duties and serving the public. This wasn’t just an attack on the JMPD or Officer Sebati, but an attack on the rule of law within the city," said Mashaba.

JMPD’s Wayne Minnaar condemned the attack on the officer, adding that he was merely doing his duty. 

"We also condemn the removing of a firearm of a uniformed officer who is doing their work," he said.

Read more on:    jmpd  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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