Cele maps a way forward with IPHC leadership after church grows frustrated by police 'inaction'

Bheki Cele.
Bheki Cele.
Tebogo Letsie
  • The IPHC claims it has been frustrated by law enforcement officials when it attempted to report incidents about the alleged splinter group.
  • At the centre of the drama is a succession battle in the church, which is currently before the court.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole met with church leaders to improve communication channels.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has met with the leadership of the International Pentecost Holiness Church (IPHC) following claims by the church it has been frustrated by police inaction over several incidents emanating from a succession battle between splinter groups in the church.

This follows an incident at the church's headquarters in Zuurbekom, on the West Rand in Johannesburg, at the weekend which left five people dead and more than 40 arrested for being in possession of ammunition

In a press briefing on Sunday, after the violent attack on the church's premises, the convener of the IPHC's executive council, Priest Albie J Wessie, said they had reported several incidents that had taken place at the church's various properties over the years, to no avail.

"What is even more disturbing is that the investigating officer [IO] in that matter, a person who was on the ground at the time we opened a case. The IO called this guy and asked how did you get involved in the Modise feud when you are not a Modise and let me tell you we are throwing this case of yours out of the window," Wessie alleged.

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He further delved into an alleged murder case in Cape Town - where he said the church owned a mountain where it held pilgrimages.

Wessie added he was afraid the case would soon turn into an inquest at the rate the investigation was going.

Beating

A splinter group allegedly arrived at the mountain as it was being prepared for the church's annual pilgrimage and started beating people, this resulted in the death of one individual, he said.

"A brigadier took that case over from a junior investigating officer, very intelligent young man who was communicating with us every step of the way. The brigadier took it from him and said this is a very high profile case and I want to deal with it personally."

He said every time he would call this brigadier, he would be inundated with excuses such as the "case is waiting for a post-mortem".

"We got fed up and frustrated, I spoke to the head of the Hawks personally [and] I spoke to General Bheki Cele and sent a detailed report of our problems.

SEE | Thieves hit Cape Town bottle store and clear out whiskey stock

"I could go days on end on our frustrations, but in the interest of time this is as far as I'll go."

Wessie was speaking alongside the leader of the IPHC, Comforter Frederick Leonard G Modise, addressing the hostage drama on their premises in the early hours of Saturday involving assailants who were allegedly led by a former church member.

He said their frustrations with law enforcement were because they had tried to arrest the issue early enough to avoid bloodshed. 

Police meet with church leaders

News24 sent enquiries to Cele, the police as well as the Hawks for comment on the church's claims.

On Tuesday, News24 was told Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole had met with some of the church's leaders on Sunday.

The meeting also mapped a way forward on how the police and church can work together to ensure the safety and security of congregants and the church's property.

In a statement, Cele assured Modise there would be an improved working relationship between the police and church.

"We wish to find a way forward on this matter with all parties involved. The South African Police Service cannot be seen to be taking sides, will not listen to just one side, but all sides and enforce the law.

"The law will have to be on the side of the police in order for us to do our work and prevent further bloodshed," he said.

These alleged series of violent acts emanate from a succession battle since the death of Reverend Glayton M Modise in 2016. The church was founded in 1962 by his father, Reverend Frederick S Modise. Comforter Frederick Leonard G Modise is Glayton's son.

This had led to three splinter groups within the church - a matter which is now before the court. A date has not been set yet to hear oral evidence.

The church said since 2016, these "satanic elements" led by the "defected group" have sought to hijack the legacy of its founder, "His Grace Comforter, Frederick S Modise and his successor, Comforter GM Modise".

News24 reached out the Hawks for comment. It will be added once it is received.

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