Eastridge Baptist Church congregants need help to fund the rebuilding of their church after it was allegedly burned down by criminals during a robbery last March.
Three suspects were arrested, but later released due to a lack of evidence.
“We are asking the community to assist us with any kind of contribution to rebuild our church. It could be anything. We will welcome it,” said Pastor Benjamin Dreyer, who told the Plainsman they lost everything in the fire, including their sound system, chairs and tables.
”In our communities we have a problem with gangsterism. They (criminals) go around and break into our churches and when they don’t get what they were looking for, they just vandalise or burn them,” said Mr Dreyer.
“We lost everything in the fire, including all the stuff for the crèche, two speakers, a microwave, gas stove and gas tank. The sad part is that they came back again after two weeks and the church was ravaged by fire.”
He added that he had also lost a collection of theology books which he had built up over the past 25 years.
Now, he said, they face the mammoth task of rebuilding the church, citing damages amounting to as much as R3.5 million. In the meantime, services are held in a tent.
He urged the community to be united and not condone violence. “Criminal activities are getting out of hand in our community and people know the perpetrators but they don’t want to come forward for the fear for their lives,” said Mr Dreyer.
”We are not the only ones who feel the pain. The community also suffers. Now we had to hire two containers for the children, at a cost of R4 200 a month. We used to have soup kitchen for the community. And also the community used to do funerals and weddings here in the church but currently all those things cannot happen,” he said.
The Baptist Church is one of the oldest churches in the area and has a congregation of more than 1 000. “The most affected people are the senior members who are the co-founders of the church,” said Mr Dreyer.