Hillsong Church in Century City says its looking at plans to beef up its security after an armed robbery there this week.
Two men entered the church on Monday morning and held up three staff, according to the police.
The women thought the men had come to make a delivery at a cafe inside the church, until one of the robbers pulled out a gun and demanded money and the whereabouts of the safe.
“When they didn’t get a safe, the men tied the three ladies up, took three cellphones and petty cash from the office,” said Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopyaya Madyibi.
The robbery lit up social media with people sharing pictures, including images of what appeared to be a police sniper taking up a position on the church’s roof, and short videos of what many mistook to be a hostage situation. A witness told the Daily Voice the three women ran out of the building just before police arrived.
“They got out and when the police arrived, it was not clear if the robbers were still inside, so they had to follow protocol and that is why people thought it was a hostage situation,” said the witness.
Responding to a post on the Milnerton Neighbours Facebook page, Diana Lotter said, “This is just disgusting! These poor innocent people inside the church.”
The church had held its Men’s Conference 2018 this past weekend, leading some to question the timing of the armed robbery.
Vinoda Urisohn said, “They had a convention there all weekend, so I’m sure there was big money.”
Western Cape Gangwatch suggested on its Facebook page that the robbers had inside information about the conference takings.
“Must be a tip-off as it was Men’s Conference this weekend and huge cash contributions made. Pray for the staff and volunteers to be safe,” said the post.
Church Pastor, Phil Dooley said a church security guard had called the police. He said he was glad no one had been hurt.
“We would like to thank the South African Police Service and Century City Security for how they handled the situation, arriving promptly, ensuring the safety of our staff, and securing the building. We are very thankful that everyone is okay.
“We have significant security measures in place. We are currently also considering additional ways to further ensure the safety of our congregation and staff.
“The incident has only served to strengthen our resolve to build a church that will help build this nation, which we love, and which we know God loves deeply too,” he said.