A member of the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries, a controversial cult, named Siphosihle Tatsi has been sentenced to 241 years in prison after requesting the longest possible sentence.
The cult, accused of devil-worshipping, made headlines in 2018 when an investigation into the deaths of five officers from Ngcobo Police Station led police to their compound.
The investigation revealed shocking practices and beliefs of the church, including closing off the church from the general public and considering education and paid work outside the church as doctrines of devil worship.
Members were also reportedly required to give all their cars, money, and property to the church if they wanted to join the congregation.
23-year-old Tatsi and his co-accused had initially abandoned their right to legal representation, maintaining that it was against their belief system.
“God is our only lawyer,” they argued.
Tatsi told Mthatha High Court that the robbery was an order from his church and was meant to fulfil a prophecy. However, he changed his plea to guilty, citing that he wanted to start a new life away from the influence of the church.
“The more time I spend in jail the better. I will have time to educate and empower myself and make free life choices without being ordered and brainwashed by the ministry,” Tatsi pleaded with the judge.
Tatsi was born into the Mancoba cult church. He said his mother had joined the church at 18 and never left.
“My mother would say our incarceration for the killing of the policemen was to fulfil a prophecy and we must not have lawyers represent us,” Tatsi said.
The defendant, Tatsi, has been sentenced by Judge Fathima Dawood to a total of 18 years for each of the five murders, 12 years for each of two attempted murders, 18 years for conspiracy, and 10 years for each of seven robberies.
Additionally, 29 years were added for three counts of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, and one count of possession of ammunition with intent to commit an offence, as well as 10 years for one count of housebreaking.
These sentences will be served concurrently, indicating that Tatsi may serve a maximum of 18 years.
During the verdict, Dawood stated that Tatsi had been indoctrinated and followed the orders of the Mancoba brothers.
However, she also acknowledged Tatsi’s courage in revealing the truth about what occurred at the church.
Tatsi mentioned that he has no place to go except for the ministry’s compound in Ngcobo. He also expressed his desire to be a good person, adding that he was once a slave at the Mancoba church and has now learned the difference between right and wrong, thanks to his time in prison.