WINDHOEK - A secretive Katutura church, owned by a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) pastor, is under police investigation after being accused of keeping some of its members hostage at the premises.
The orange and blue painted building of the church, called Fountain of Living Water Ministry, situated in Freedom Square in Katutura, attracted scores of people yesterday morning, including relatives of church members some of whom have been living at the church for about three years.
A total of 16 members were found at the church premises with their mattresses and blankets on Sunday evening.
Members are believed to be involved in doctrinal activities. They eat a mixture of sand, water and oil, journalists were told.
The church has fridges with food and many mattresses kept at the premises. Congregants have changed their names as they were made to believe their original names were from Satan. The pastor, married to a Namibian woman who is a university lecturer, is accused of fondling female church members when praying for them.
Amongst those held hostage are university students who had to quit their studies, sick people and married women who walked out on their marriages.
A team led by Nampol Chief Inspector Christina van Dunem Fonsech stormed the church on Sunday evening around 23h00 after hearing that a young woman was locked up in the container on the church premises. Fonsech confirmed they indeed found the woman locked up in the container.
In addition, relatives of a young woman, Munee Hengari, who has been living at the church for three years, were among the spectators. According the woman’s sister, Connie Kasuto, Munee left her job and moved from her rented room to the church.
Kasuto said her sister sold all her furnitures and refused to give it to their mother. Kasuto said her sister, who changed her name to Maria, last saw her daughter, who is now five-years-old, when she was three months of age. Hengari’s daughter lives with her grandmother in Epukiro. After joining the church, Kasuto said Hengari changed as she shaved all her hair off and lost a lot of weight.
Kasuto said although Hengari visits them now and then in Windhoek, she does not entertain people discussing her church.
A 25-year-old man who requested anonymity found in church denied that he was kept at the church against his will as he could leave when he wished to. He denied that people sleep at church. The young man, an accounting graduate from the University of Namibia, told New Era that he quit his job to concentrate on his new studies to become a chartered accountant, saying he did not quit his studies for the church.
“We bring mattresses out to rest because we had extended prayers. This is the church’s mattress. We never slept here, only when there is extended prayers,” stated the young man, who said that after prayers people could go home.
However, he added that if they have extended prayers, which end late, people could bring their belongings such as clothing to go to work or to school from church.
When approached for comment pastor Jacques Sumpi, whose t-shirt had blood stains, told this reporter that he was tired and cannot speak anymore as he has not slept.
Not sitting far from him was his wife, Ndemupavali Sarah Sumpi, who also refused to speak to the media.
Fonsech told the media that these was the fourth time they heard complaints about the church which range from noise pollution, parents complaining that their children dropping out of school for the church and churchgoers not on speaking terms with their relatives.
Fonsech said those found in church are not in good condition and that some looked ill.
“They don’t want to communicate and it seem they were told not to say anything. All 16 are here and they don’t want to go to hospital as they believed in anointed oil and water,” she said.