Churches are supposed to be places of refuge and safety for their congregation and the community but this was not the case for a Grassy Park clergyman who was robbed at gunpoint in his own church.
The minister, who chose not to be named, was cleaning at the New Apostolic Church in Paulus Way, Grassy Park, on Saturday August 28 in preparation for the following day’s service when a man entered the place of worship and struck up a conversation with him.
The kind-hearted minister didn’t suspect anything but after about 15 minutes the man pulled out a firearm and threatened him.
“We were talking and all of a sudden he held the gun up and instructed me to give him all my valuables. Shocked and with a gun to my head, I did what he told me to do.”
The suspect took his wallet with money, jewellery and car keys.
He then locked the minister in one of the church’s mother rooms (a room where moms can nurse or soothe fussy children) and left with his blue VW Polo.
“The whole experience was very scary and traumatic – nothing like this has happened to me before and one doesn’t think that something like this could happen or that someone could be so brazen to do this at a church, so he caught me off guard”, said the victim.
“There was a lack of respect for the church and what it stands for but as much as I am traumatised I don’t hold malice.”
When the suspect left, the minister screamed for help and neighbours were able to assist him and unlock the mother’s room.
The man said he was thankful that he was not injured in the incident.
Grassy Park police’s Captain Wynita Kleinsmith confirmed the incident and said a case of robbery with a firearm and theft of a motor vehicle was reported.
“We are investigating the case but currently the suspect is unknown and the vehicle has not been recovered yet. We implore anyone with information to please contact the station.”
Grassy Park Community Police Forum chairperson, Mervyn Jonkers, condemned the incident. “I’m speaking on behalf of the Grassy Park community when I say we are appalled and saddened at what happened at the church over the weekend. It’s a place of worship and you don’t expect that a church would be robbed in broad daylight.”
Mr Jonkers said it is a new low that a criminal was brazen enough to rob the minister in the church building.
“About two years ago there were break-ins at a mosques in the area and equipment were stolen but for a suspect to go into a church to gun-point a church member, take valuables, equipment and a car is a new low.”
Anyone with information about the car’s location or information that could help in the investigation is urged to contact Grassy Park police on 021 7003940 .