On October 29, 2023, in the South African city of Johannesburg, a church congregation was disrupted by armed men who robbed congregants including leaders of the church.
So far, it has been confirmed that aside from the incident, a member of the church was kidnapped by the robbers even as the police worked to rescue him.
1. Ghana High Commission confirms the incident:
In a statement dated October 30, 2023, the High Commission confirmed the attack and losses that resulted.
“The attention of the High Commission of the Republic of Ghana has been drawn to an incident in which members of the congregation of the Johannesburg branch of the Ghanaian Church of Pentecost were robbed of their valuables at gunpoint…”
2. Deacon kidnapped:
The statement continued: “… a Deacon of the church kidnapped during church service on 29th October 2023.”
3. Police seized with the matter:
“The Mission is presently working with the Church in cooperation with the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) to ensure the speedy and safe release and return of the victim to his family. Kindly note that the South African Police is fully focused on the matter and is working hard to ensure the safe return of our compatriot,” the Mission said.
4. No word from the mother church in Ghana:
The Church of Pentecost in Accra has yet to formally comment on the development which has gone viral on social media platforms.
Many Facebook and Twitter (now X) users are expressing surprise at the turn of events while lamenting South Africa’s poor security situation despite being the continent’s most industralized nation.
About the incident:
The incident captured the congregation being attacked by the gunmen who stormed the auditorium during the service.
As the preacher was delivering his sermon, chaos instantly erupted, showing the armed robbers robbing the congregants at gunpoint.
The preacher, believed to be the leader of the assembly, was specifically targeted as the robbers seized phones and valuables from him, while also looting from the rest of the worshipers.
One of the robbers approached the pulpit, coercing the preacher to lead them to the location where money was kept.
South Africa’s crime stats:
According to official government statistics, the crime rate has gone up in 2022/2023.
Data released by Statistics South Africa showed that household crimes such as housebreaking, home robbery and theft of motor vehicles experienced in the twelve months preceding the interview increased compared to 2021/22.
Crimes experienced by individuals have also increased, except for consumer fraud and hijacking of motor vehicles, which dropped in 2022/23.
According to the Governance, Public Safety, and Justice Survey (GPSJS) 2022/23, the percentage of adults aged 16 years and older who felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods during the day decreased from 81,3% in 2021/22 to 80,8% in 2022/23.
Housebreaking is the most common crime experienced by households in South Africa. A total of 1,1 million households experienced housebreaking incidences in the 2022/23 period.
An estimated 1,6 million incidences of housebreaking occurred, representing 5,7% of all households in the country. About 51% of households that experienced housebreaking reported some or all incidences to the police.
The percentage of households that reported the incidences to the police decreased from 59,2% in 2021/22 to 51,4% in 2022/23.
According to the GPSJS, housebreaking was more often experienced by male-headed households than women-headed households and households in non-metro areas.