Hawks report could trigger further Seven Angels cult arrests

On Sunday, the City Press reported that the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry cult had held no less than 100 sex slaves captive. (Gallo)

On Sunday, the City Press reported that the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry cult had held no less than 100 sex slaves captive. (Gallo)

Hawks investigating officers will hand over a report on Monday which may lead to the arrests of more suspects who could be linked to the killing of five police officers at a police station in the Eastern Cape town of Ngcobo.

The Hawks made a breakthrough in their investigation into the murders on Friday night, arresting and killing some of the suspects believed to be connected to the cop killings in a shootout.

But the police are still searching for more suspects who may be linked to the case. A report from the Hawks investigating team which will be handed over to senior officials on Monday afternoon is expected to contain more leads, said Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi.

“We will be able to get the consolidated report from the investigating team later this afternoon hopefully,” he said.

On Sunday, the City Press reported that the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry cult had held no less than 100 sex slaves captive. The girls were between the ages of 12 and 21, National police commissioner General Khehla Sithole confirmed.

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The cult is reported to be run by seven brothers and their mother. A Mr Mancoba is believed to have started the cult in the centre of Nyanga village, in the Eastern Cape. He died in 2015. His seven sons refused to follow his succession, City Press reported, and formed a breakaway group that has been led by their mother.

Three of the seven brothers who are believed to be members of the cult were killed on Friday during a shootout with police at a church the gang was allegedly using as a hideout.

More than 10 suspects were arrested that same night.

But the state has known about the cult for months. The cult, according to chapter 9 institution the CRL Commission, sees itself as a righteous religious church group waiting for the return of Jesus.

“We questioned the sanity of church leaders, who saw themselves as angels sent by God,” Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva told City Press.

“Everyone [at the cult] was sitting waiting for Jesus to come. We told Parliament that this was a high risk and these people need urgent attention.”

“We warned that there will be something else [that will happen] once their money runs out. Look what has happened.”

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said that she had interviewed members of the cult as far back as 2016. The CRL Commission then made Parliament aware of the “serious concerns” they had about members of the cult, but Parliament did not act, she said. Instead, MPs told the commission to establish a national consultative conference with churches to debate self-regulation. But the commission did not have funds to set up the conference. “This has been a ticking time bomb. We said either these people are going to commit suicide or something else will happen,” she said.

“No one listened to us. This could have been avoided. We told them we cannot have a sector that is not regulated.”

A police officer told City Press that the cult had run out of money which was why it had targeted and stolen weapons from the police station. The cult is also linked to two ATM bombings in the town.

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The young girls and women, meanwhile, were rescued over the weekend, but some of them were reluctant to leave with police after being “indoctrinated” by the cult, Sithole said. They had been kept in shacks and were forbidden from having identity documents. The younger girls were also banned from attending school.

Sithole said that they would be taken to social workers for counselling.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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