July 25 2010 at 11:39AM Get IOL on your
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Churches, mosques and temples have been urged to tighten security after a group of criminals robbed a Chatsworth church last week.
Revival Ministries became the latest place of worship to be hit, following similar incidents at places of worship over the past six months.
Now authorities have called for extra security measures to be put in place to ensure the safety of congregants and the safekeeping of valuables and cash.
Last Saturday morning, a man pretending to be looking for employment held up the caretaker at Revival Ministries.
After being told there were no vacancies, the man, who was soon joined by a woman, drew a firearm and demanded the keys to the church safe. Three other suspects then joined them.
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Police were able to make a breakthrough with the investigation after watching a camera recording.
A former domestic worker at the church who no longer worked there was arrested, said police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Daniela Veldhuizen.
The suspect appeared in the Chatsworth Magistrate's Court and was remanded for further investigation. Six other women were arrested in KwaMashu this week after amounts of cash were found in their possession.
Alwyn Joseph, public relations officer of Revival Ministries, said this was the first time in the church's history that a robbery had occurred.
"We want to assure all members they are in no immediate danger and the leadership has taken every step to ensure their safety," said Joseph.
No services were being held at the time of attack.
Veldhuizen said religious organisations had been targeted over the past six months.
Logan Chetty, who chairs the Chatsworth Community Policing Forum, advised all religious organisations to bank large sums of money and take extra security precautions.
"It is foolish to keep money or valuables on the premises. The fact that money is being kept could easily be leaked to criminals," said Chetty.
He said while there had been a few incidents, organisations had been alerted and criminals often changed tactics to avoid getting caught.
"It is the responsibility of every organisation, especially those who have a large following, to employ security services, as the police can only do so much," said Chetty.
Pastor Paul Lutchman of the Christian Revival Centre echoed Chetty's views.
Lutchman said he employed guards for servi-ces and gave panic buttons to some members of his congregation for emergencies.
Anyone with information should contact Warrant Officer Ivan Padayachee at 083 591 1786 .