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

(Supplied: SAPS)
(Supplied: SAPS)

"He was my king, whatever he said I did. I would not question that. I worshipped him."

These were the words of 23-year-old Siphosomzi Tshefu, one of the men accused of the murder of five police officers and a soldier in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, two weeks ago.

Tshefu was referring to Thandazile Mancoba, one of the leaders of the Seven Angels Ministry, which has been implicated in the murders.

Tshefu was applying for bail in the Ngcobo Magistrate's Court on Thursday along with five co-accused Andani Monco, Kwanele Ndlawana, Siphesihle Tatsi, Phumzile Mhlatywa and Phuthumile Mancoba.

Tshefu, the son of a soldier, testified about the weapon used in the attack which started at the police station on February 21.

READ: We feel powerless - CRL on Seven Angels Ministry

He said he had used a gun stolen from a police officer in an unrelated incident. He disposed of the weapon allegedly on the instructions of Thandazile.

"No one gave us orders except Thandazile. [I] had no decision of not listening to him because he was my king, whatever he said I did. I would not question that. I worshipped him."

Magistrate Nozuko Mviko asked whether he would obey if Thandazile told him to take a gun and shoot himself. He answered "yes".

He said he could not afford bail. The only person at the Mancoba home who would have paid his bail was Thandazile, but he was dead.

He said he joined the church around 2002.

He said he would plead guilty to the charges against him.

All the accused face charges of five counts of murder, two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder.

I have no privacy in cells

Tshefu's co-accused Ndlwana, also testified on Thursday.

He told the court that his sister was married to Thandazile and that his father was a police officer based in East London.

The 22-year-old said one of the reasons he wanted to be released on bail was so that he could tell his sister what had happened the night Thandazile was killed.

In the cells where he was held, there was no privacy and he couldn't say certain things to his sister, the court heard.

Thandazile was one of seven Mancoba brothers who led the controversial Seven Angels Ministry, which has been likened to a cult, in the small rural town of Ngcobo.

Thandazile was killed during a shootout in which the accused were arrested.

The Grade Nine drop out, who stared at his feet as he spoke, said he had left school because his belief did not allow him to study and work.

He said his mom from the church and Thandazile took care of him, fed him and he was given money for clothes. He did not know where the money came from. 

The lord would show us what to do

State advocate Nomapha Mvandaba asked where church members would get money, if they were not allowed to work.

He responded: “Bekuzobonisa ubawo uba senze njani (The Lord would show us what to do to survive)."

Mvandaba further asked whether he would comply if he was told to commit crime in order to survive.

He answered: "If his will says so, I do what he asks me to do. I don't question him. He did not say I must apply for bail but I used my mind to think which he gave me. (sic)"

Turning to the weapons used in the shootout at Seven Angels Ministry, Ndlwana said four rifles were taken, one at Nyanga and three at the police station.

When asked whether he considered that the deceased cops would never see their families or that they were the breadwinners in their homes, he chose not to answer those questions.

Magistrate Mviko asked him what guarantee there was that he would not kill other police officers if he was released.

He answered: "I have no object to do that and I have no intention of killing cops."

Stolen weapons

Ndlwana also told the court that the weapons used to kill the police officers were stolen from two police officers in Butterworth and Cala.

He refused to answer when he was asked what was used to bomb a Capitec ATM, the night the police officers and soldier were massacred.

The Ngcobo Magistrate's Court was packed to capacity as people gathered to listen to the evidence.

Co-accused Phuthumile Mancoba, who is also a church leader, Tatsi and Mhlatywa will apply for bail on March 19. 

A sixth accused Andani Monco, chose not to apply for bail.

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