Police answer community's prayers, remove painting off notorious Ngcobo mountain

2018-03-14 18:32
One of the seven angels, Phuthumile Mancoba, is escorted by police after a brief appearance at the Engcobo Magistrates’ Court. (Lubabalo Ngcukana)

One of the seven angels, Phuthumile Mancoba, is escorted by police after a brief appearance at the Engcobo Magistrates’ Court. (Lubabalo Ngcukana)

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Ngcobo - Eastern Cape police officers have responded to requests by members of the Ngcobo community, who asked for words written on a mountain in their village, by members of the controversial Seven Angels Ministry, to be removed.

The task, which began this week, is being led by the provincial head of crime prevention Brigadier Malibongwe Ntsabo, spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said on Wednesday.

"[The team] began the work earlier this week and undertook the dangerous, yet necessary, task of cleaning the mountains, free of all the painted inscriptions in white and red paint.

"The task is a response to a request by community members to erase the writings, as authority and consent was not solicited by the then church members," Tonjeni said.

He added that, due to controversy surrounding the church, there was common consensus that all the writing be removed.

The Seven Angels Ministry, which was led by seven Mancoba brothers, has been implicated in the deaths of five police officers and a soldier, who were brutally killed in Ngcobo on February 21 during an attack that started at the small rural town's police station. Several weapons and ammunition were stolen by the armed attackers.

Two days later, after receiving a tip-off that some of the weapons were on the church's property, just outside town in Khalinyanga village, a shootout ensued which led to the death of seven people. Three of whom were Mancoba brothers.

READ: 'He was my king, I worshipped him,' says accused about church leader

Six people have since been arrested in connection with the murders of the police officers and the soldier, and among them is one of the surviving Mancoba brothers.

In a report by Daily Dispatch, residents in the area had previously expressed their unhappiness with the words painted on the mountain. The words read: "Ilizwi LikaThixo Limi Ngonaphakade (God's Word is eternal) Seven Angels, Yehova God, Angel Forces(sic)."

The village's headman, Zanemvula Poswayo, told the publication at the time that he had not been informed by church leaders that they were opening a church in the village.

"I was just shocked to one day [last month] wake up and see that writing on the mountain," Poswayo said.

On Wednesday, Tonjeni said the officers had to climb up the mountain on the outskirts of the town, using advanced access and mountain climbing methods to reach the area where the walls had been painted.

"A large part was erased using black paint, to cover the red and white paint," Tonjeni added.

The operation was expected to be completed to by the end of the week, ahead of a cleansing ceremony which would be led by the office of safety, liaison and transport MEC Weziwe Tikana, in partnership with the SAPS.

Provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga had taken a helicopter flight to check the officers' progress and encouraged the members to work smart and to prioritise their safety.

"We want the work to be done without any casualties as we shut the lid of a very painful chapter in the history of the South African Police Service in our province," she said.

Read more on:    saps  |  east london  |  religion

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