WHAT started out earlier as a normal Sunday service at the Revelation Church of God escalated into a tense standoff between worshipers and the traffic police in Hillbrow yesterday.
At least one officer was disarmed and one churchgoer arrested in the aftermath of a scuffle and warning shots fired to disperse an angry crowd whose cars were being towed away due to parking in the wrong place.
The chaos erupted at the 5000-strong church owned by the infamous prophet Radebe. One of the church leaders, Apostle Sibisi, said they had already heard from sources that JMPD would attempt to close the church and those fears were raised when just after the morning service, JMPD officers arrived with three tow trucks.
Sibisi said the traffic police were prevented from impounding cars belonging to worshippers and all hell broke loose.
“What happened today is unacceptable, this is a house of worship, we do not understand why armed law enforcers come inside when there are children, women, elderly and people living with disabilities who came for healing,” he said.
He said as church leaders they expected to be served with papers but police came with the intention to provoke and fight with them.
“The police would have got hurt mostly, we have more church members. After disarming the officer, the member took the gun to the Hillbrow police station but police arrested him instead,” he said.
Sibisi said the church had bought land but the problem was that there were squatters residing on it. The city of Joburg’s public safety department condemned the attack on the traffic officer and the driver of a JMPD tow truck.
“The attack took place when the two officials hooked up an illegally parked car belonging to a member of a church on Claim Street in Hillbrow as it was causing traffic congestion.
“From interim investigations, it is believed that the JMPD officer drew his firearm and fired into the air to stop the rioting congregates from advancing toward them, but the crowd did not heed the warning and proceeded to attack the officer,” JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said.
NTOMBI NKOSI email@example.com