Maverick Citizen

SEVEN ANGELS MINISTRY

High court asks NPA to rescue kids from Eastern Cape church after congregant’s testimony on police murders

High court asks NPA to rescue kids from Eastern Cape church after congregant’s testimony on police murders
One of the five suspects convicted of killing police officers in Ngcobo on 21 February 2018, Siphesihle Tatsi (23), was sentenced to 18 years in prison on 25 July 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

The Eastern Cape High Court Mthatha on Tuesday asked the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to rescue children still living at the Seven Angels Ministry in Ngcobo, Eastern Cape, after a 23-year-old church member testified how the church elders forced him to commit murders and other crimes.

The youngest of the accused in the trial of six members of the Seven Angels Ministry in Ngcobo, who were linked to a brutal attack on the town’s police station in 2018 in which five police officers were killed and several seriously injured, was on Tuesday sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment by the Eastern Cape High Court Mthatha. 

Siphesihle Tatsi (23) was convicted on 22 charges.

In his pre-sentencing testimony, he told the court that he grew up in the church and only got a taste of freedom after his arrest.

Tatsi said the many children who grew up in the church were not allowed to attend school or communicate with anyone outside the church.

He told the court that he would like to go to school and change his life while in prison. 

He said the church members — even the elderly — were told that they were soldiers and were trained like soldiers. They were punished if they refused to follow the elders’ instructions, which included committing stock theft. 

Tatsi testified that had he not killed the police officers he would have been killed or received a harsh punishment.

During sentencing, the court asked the NPA to engage with social workers and rescue the children who remain at the church. 

Police officers take Siphesihle Tatsi’s fingerprints after he was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the Eastern Cape High Court Mthatha on 25 July 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ngcobo killings: ‘Toothless’ commission approaches ConCourt over Seven Angels Church

Tatsi pleaded guilty to 22 charges relating to the murder of five on-duty police officers, the attempted murder of their colleagues at the Ngcobo police station on 21 February 2018, and a spree of robberies. The police officers were killed for their service weapons.  

Tatsi was 18 years old when he committed the crimes.   

Four of his fellow church members – Andani Monco (32), Kwanele Ndlwana (24), Siphosomzi Tshefu (26) and Phumzile Mhlatywa (48) – will go on trial in September.

The men are charged with the murders of Warrant Officer Zuko Mbini, constables Zuko Nelson Ntsheku, Nkosiphendule Pongco, Sibongiseni Sandlana and Kuhle Mateta, as well as the attempted murders of three other police officers: Mvelisi Simoyi, Awonke Njobe and Masango Ngqambane.

Another accused, Phuthumile Mancoba (41), pleaded guilty to charges of defeating the ends of justice and the illegal possession of a firearm on 3 December 2018. DM

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