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More arrests as Cele vows to bolster security after church hostage incident

Cele visited the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Zuurbekom on Sunday following Saturday’s violence.

Police arrested several people and over 25 firearms were seized during a hostage incident at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom on 11 July 2020. Picture: SAPS.

Editors' note: this article has been edited to show that the police minister met with leaders of the church at a neutral venue, and not at the church.

JOHANNESBURG - Police have arrested more suspects in connection with the hostage drama that left five people dead at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church on the West Rand.

The church said that it hoped that its leadership battle would be resolved through the courts by the end of the year.

Five people were shot dead when a splinter group allegedly entered the church and held over 200 congregants at ransom for hours.

More than 30 suspects were arrested.

The police’s Vish Naidoo said: “We’ve arrested additional suspects. In addition to the 31 firearms that we recovered on Sunday, the figure has now gone up to 75. All suspects remain in police custody.”

The arrests come as Police Minister Bheki Cele has assured the church that more would be done to bolster security.

Cele met with leaders of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church at a neutral venue in Zuurbekom on Sunday.

The minister's spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said: “Sunday’s meeting has established better communication between the church and South African Police Service. They have resolved to continue working together.”

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