Police rescued 18 children who had allegedly been held hostage at a church near Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape on Monday afternoon.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela, said they had to forcefully enter the church to recover the children aged between 3 and 13 years.
“The children stay in the church. The children don’t go to school and some don’t even have birth certificates. It’s alleged that they were not allowed outside the gates. When you are staying at that church you don’t leave the church,” he said.
He said the Department Social Development had been investigating the church for months.
“After concluding its investigations, the department came to us for help to rescue these children,” he told News24.
“The church refused [to allow] police to enter, we had to force our way in.”
The children were removed and taken to places of safety.
Fatyela said no one had been arrested.