By Namatirai Mashona
Six members of an apostolic church in Mbembesi, Umguza District were injured after four men allegedly stormed their church and pelted them with stones before attacking them with knobkerries during a service on Easter Sunday.
The attackers, who were suspected to be drunk, allegedly stormed into the Apostolic Faith and Acts Church and started dancing haphazardly while fondling some female congregants at around midnight.
They also allegedly openly proposed love to women in front of other congregants.
Mzwandile Mafohla (21), Mbongeni Khubone (23), Nkosikhona Mdluli (23) all from Mbethe Village and Lulukhani Hadebe (25) of Sojini village in Mbembesi reportedly fled from the scene after one of the church members drew a pellet gun and fired warning shots into the air.
Church proceedings were briefly stopped as some members fled when the quartet allegedly attacked congregants with knobkerries and pelted them with stones.
The incident took place as church members, some from South Africa and Zambia, celebrated Easter.The suspects allegedly shattered the windscreen on a congregant’s vehicle.
Chief Ndondo of Mbembesi, who church leaders immediately phoned when the commotion started, confirmed the incident.
“I got a call from one of the pastors who informed me that they were being attacked. I informed the police who rounded up the suspects,” he said.
Chief Ndondo said the community was living in fear because of the behaviour of the four men who are known for their penchant for committing crime.
“Those boys are a problem in the area. We can’t continuously live in fear because of a few people. We hope they get jailed so that this becomes a lesson to everyone. What’s worrying is that it seems they get support from their parents who were even sending them food while they were in police cells,” said the Chief.
Pastor Edward Ngulube, who heads the church in Mbembesi, said: “They were drunk and started dancing and pulling girls while openly proposing love to them inside the church. Our youths shoved them out and that’s when they picked stones and started attacking everyone”.
Pastor Ngulube said there were some disputes within the church which split up a few years ago.
He said they suspected that the attackers could have been sent by some disgruntled individuals who were not happy that the church was allocated land to build its premises.
The injured congregants, Messrs Mluleki Ncube (49) from Bulawayo, David Ngulube (35), Vusi Nganaini (41), Blessmore Nzambane (35) and Lungile Mjaliwho (age not given) — all from Mbembesi and Dawati Nzawupheli (35) based in South Africa, were taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals where they were treated and discharged.
Mafohla, Khubone, Mdluli and Hadebe were arrested on Sunday morning.
They were expected to appear in court yesterday to answer to charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.
Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Inspector Siphiwe Makonese could not readily comment. – The Chronicle