One of the leaders of the controversial Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries has made a brief appearance in court.
Ephraim Mancoba (23) was wearing a green jacket as he was escorted to the Engcobo Magistrates’ Court by heavily armed police on Tuesday.
He is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery with aggravating circumstances.
His older brother, 30-year-old Banele – who is seen as the mastermind and spokesperson of the group – appeared in the same court on Monday on similar charges along with another church member, Siphenathi Maphikwana.
All three were remanded in custody until March 13.
However, none of them have been linked with the murder of five police officers and a soldier at the Engcobo Police Station two weeks ago.
Only one of the Mancoba brothers, Phuthumile (31), has been charged with six counts of murder, attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm.
He appeared at the same court last week and will appear again on Thursday along with his co-accused, Andani Monco (30), Siphosomzi Tshefu (24), Kwanele Ndlwane (22), Siphosihle Tatsi (20), and Phumzile Mhlatywa (46).
There was a 30-minute shoot-out on February 23 at the cult’s premises, where police tracked down the alleged killers of the officers and a soldier during the massacre at the police station.
Among the seven suspects killed in the shoot-out were three of the cult’s leaders, the Mancoba brothers, known to their followers as the “seven angels”.
Police recovered all 10 firearms stolen during the Engcobo Police Station attack at the church’s premises.
Mancoba brothers Xolisa (37), Philile (33) and Thandazile (37) were killed, while church leaders Banele, Benjamin (23), Ephraim and Phuthumile survived.
In court on Tuesday, Ephraim chose to conduct his own defence and did not want a Legal Aid lawyer to represent him.
Unlike Banele, Ephraim asked for bail which was opposed by the prosecution because they wanted bail application information. The court then remanded him in custody.
Meanwhile, City Press reported on Sunday that police were investigating whether the hundred or so young women and girls rescued at the church were trafficked into the cult.
Eastern Cape Hawks spokesperson Captain Anelisa Feni told City Press the investigation was broadened to include the possibility of trafficking.
Read: Sex cult mystery deepens
“There are people who were rescued there who have children. So we want to establish how old they were when they were impregnated. We don’t know whether they are married or what is happening. We found young girls there with children, some of them [girls] underage,” Feni said.
“We want to find out when these girls – even those young women over 18 – got pregnant. Are they married or what? Because under trafficking in persons, we want to find out if there were forced marriages. An underage child can’t marry anyway.”