Root of evil in police massacre

WRITING’S ON THE WALL: Cryptic words are written on the side of a mountain behind the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries at Nyanga village near Ngcobo, with a rendition of seven angels above Picture: LULAMILE FENI
WRITING’S ON THE WALL: Cryptic words are written on the side of a mountain behind the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries at Nyanga village near Ngcobo, with a rendition of seven angels above Picture: LULAMILE FENI
A series of disturbing, violent events connected to the Seven Angels church might reveal clues to the Ngcobo police station massacre.

At the root of the narrative are two patriarchs of two religious families – the Mancoba brothers’ father Siphiwo and his former friend Ndumiso Jali.

These two men ran Siphiwo’s church on Jali’s land at Umzimkhulu, in KwaZulu-Natal. The venture flourished over a decade to become a separatist, greedy, violence-prone cult. Both men died violently.

A Saturday Dispatch investigation revealed that a clash broke out over the land used to house the church’s tents, where many rituals were conducted.

Jali and Mancoba fell out badly, said sources close to the families, and Jali told Mancoba to go.

“Jali wanted his land back but Mancoba refused to move out,” said a source.

In April 2015, a physical fight broke out between the two men. Mancoba was killed. His body was burnt on the church ground, according to a source who said it was their belief.

“The Mancobas were not happy with this and went back to their home in Engcobo but they promised to come back and deal with Jali,” said a source, once a member of the church.

The Mancoba followers were then run out of the area, and they fled to Ngcobo, apparently deeply embittered and angry.

However, before these events, Saturday Dispatch was told that in 2000, when Siphiwo Mancoba and his family and followers arrived at Jali’s land, they already had an aura of violence and coercion about them.

They had been driven out of Centane by a village chief after church members, led by Siphiwo Mancoba, recruited villagers and school-going children to join the church. There is a claim the Mancobas were involved in the shooting to death of a teenage boy who was part of a group that protested outside the church, calling for its closure. Nomawethu Mamvana, whose relative left her nursing post to join the church in the late 1990s, said the shooting in Centane shocked the “close-knit Tafalofefe community.”

Sources close to the Jali family say that after Siphiwo Mancoba’s death in 2015, the Mancobas and their zealots “promised to come back and deal with the person who killed their father”.

Despite a number of government raids on the Ngcobo church, the final straw appeared to be a raid on the compound by the police, which sparked the bloodbath that erupted in recent weeks.

Further clues to this sequence of crazed events are emblazoned in full public view: the Mancoba “Angels” had themselves painted as enormous white figures on a jagged crag in the area, four of them on the left, three on the right and Christ in the middle. There is an ominous ring to the slogan painted in huge capital letters: “Jehova”, “God”, and “Angel forces”.

But the most perplexing message, and perhaps the key to the mystery is the weird injunction painted nearby: “The end of 1260 days, it’s a new beginning.”

It has been explained that before Mancoba died in April 2015, he left a message with his church that after 1260 days the congregation must leave the church premises and preach across the country spreading the word of their god. That date is roughly in August.

However, they were forced to leave the church a week ago when the police task force raided the compound and killed seven people, including three of the Mancoba brothers. The raid followed an attack on the Ngcobo police station in which five officers and a soldier were slain.

The quickening moment in this brewing atmosphere of violence was the shocking gunning to death in February of Jali and his wife at their church in New Clydesdale village, in Umzimkhulu.

Police appear to have made no progress and no arrests but sources close to the Jalis tell a bizarre story of revenge.

“The Mancoba brothers were the first on the scene to demand the Jali corpses. They claimed that they belonged to their church.

“How did they travel all the way from the Eastern Cape to be here immediately? This was only hours after the shooting?” asked a Dispatch source, and former member of the church.

The Jali family refused to release the bodies.

Jali’s son Msizi, speaking through a friend, said it was “too early” to speak to the Saturday Dispatch about the murder of his parents or the Mancoba family.

Banele Mancoba, who speaks on behalf of the Seven Angels Ministry church, yesterday told Dispatch that he “was too busy to speak to media”.

Eastern Cape social development spokesman, Mzukisi Solani said all the children rescued from Ngcobo were placed in various centres around Chris Hani District.

“We are busy assisting as some of the children or their mothers have no IDs or birth certificates.

“We are also trying to re-unify them with their families ... some don’t want to go back to their original families.”–