The Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church, run by pastor Shepherd Bushiri, said in a statement on Thursday that it has distanced itself from former pastor Nicolus Mgiba who was arrested earlier this week for poaching.
ECG said the church had suspended Mgiba earlier this year due to internal disciplinary issues and the matter of his arrest is solely a matter of himself.
Mgiba, 45, along with Bento Mendose, 44 and Zalcbrel Baloyi, 28 were arrested along the R40 near Hoedspruit on Monday following a tip-off about an illegal hunting syndicate.
According to police they spotted a vehicle matching the description given along the R40 and ordered it to stop but it didn’t. A vehicle chase ensued and the suspects began shooting at the police. The police returned fire injuring one suspect and then arresting all three.
One hunting rifle, one silencer, ammunition, a knife and an axe were recovered.
The three suspects appeared in the Hoedspruit periodical court on charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit illegal hunting on Wednesday. They were denied bail and will return to court on June 12.