Listen to all sides in deadly church row, Bheki Cele told

By Jonisayi Maromo

Police minister Bheki Cele was on Wednesday criticised for failing to listen to all parties involved in the International Pentecostal Holiness Church’s (IPHC) deadly leadership battle.

Spokesperson for the IPHC Jerusalem faction led by Michael Sandlana, priest Vusi Ndala addressing journalists in Pretoria. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency
Spokesperson for the IPHC Jerusalem faction led by Michael Sandlana, priest Vusi Ndala addressing journalists in Pretoria. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency

“While Minister Bheki Cele committed to meet all the parties concerned as articulated in a statement issued following the visit to the Zuurbekom faction, he is yet to meet with the leadership at IPHC in Jerusalem, a month after visiting the Zuurbekom faction,” said spokesperson for the IPHC Jerusalem faction led by Michael Sandlana, priest Vusi Ndala.

Ndala was addressing journalists in Pretoria.

He said the IPHC in Zuurbekom was not representative of the IPHC in its entirety, and instead was simply a faction of the church. Cele’s visit suggested the minister favoured “one faction over the other”, said Ndala.

“We hope that the ministry of police would not want this perception to linger and become a reality that is unnecessary, and we humbly appeal that an opportunity rendered to the IPHC in Zuurbekom is rendered to the IPHC in Jerusalem.”

A day after the deadly attack at the IPHC Silo headquarters in Zuurbekom, last month, Cele led a high-level visit and announced his intervention to end the longstanding leadership row.

The minister held a meeting with “Comforter” Frederick Leonard Goitsemang Modise, who leads the faction at Zuurbekom, west of Johannesburg, following the violent attack at the premises, which left at least five people dead.

During that meeting, Cele assured Modise – the younger son of former church leader Glayton Modise who died in 2016 – that there would be an improved working relationship between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the church.

The well known church, which boasts a three-million strong membership in South Africa and neighbouring countries, has been engulfed in a bitter three-way conflict to succeed Glayton Modise, who had “inherited” the church from his father and founder “Comforter” Frederick Samuel Modise in 1998.

There has been intensive conflict between the three main contenders – Glayton Modise’s two sons Frederick Leonard Goitsemang and Tshepiso, and Michael Sandlana, reportedly Glayton Modise’s son out of wedlock – to take over the reins of the church.

Leonard Modise leads the IPHC group based at the Silo headquarters in Zuurbekom. The other two contenders run different church splinter groups elsewhere.

Tshepiso Modise currently leads the IPHC branch in Springs, east of Johannesburg, while Sandlana leads the splinter church from the Jerusalem branch in Pretoria. Sandlana reportedly leads approximately 90 per cent of the church branches and has the support of most IPHC priests on the church council. African News Agency

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