At least 51 people suspected to be followers of the spiritual leader of the Efatha Life Ministry, Josephat Mwingira, and two guards from Fumbuka security firm have been detained by the police for allegedly invading the premises demoliting structures belonging to adjacent Afro-Plus Industries company.
Kinondoni Regional Police Commander (RPC) Charles Kenyela told reporters yesterday in Dar es Salaam that the arrests stem from a land dispute between the ministry's bank and the company, both of which are located at Mwenge in the city.
Kenyela said in the incident, which took place at dawn yesterday, the church's followers destroyed the company's property, including setting fire on some of them.
He said the police had also impounded a sub-machine gun with four rounds of ammunition from one of the security guards and an Efatha Ministry car with registration number T 729 BPF.
In the incident which happened on Sunday night, the commander said, the Efatha followers, in the company of the two security guards, allegedly assaulted the company's guards before invading the premises and laying to waste the company's property.
He said 51 followers were found holding an assortment of weapons, including axes, steel bars and machetes.
Elaborating. Kenyela said after the incident was reported, the police dispatched a team to the area, which was later reinforced by firefighters following reports that the area was ablaze.
After reaching the area, he said, the police found two security guards who had broken the entrance to the company's premises. He said the guards shot twice in the air to scare away the police.
Meanwhile, he said, the Efatha followers were streaming on to the company's premises burning and destrying anything in their way.
Kenyela condemned the wanton destruction of property and the tendency by the people to take the law into their own hands. He said it was even worse when the perpetrators were religious leaders who should have known better, especially on Easter Sunday.
Last January the RPC summoned Mwingira for questioning following a similar incident with the company.
Mwingira is alleged to have ordered 50 guards to invade and demolish Afro-Plus property following a long-standing land dispute between the two parties.
The case is ongoing at the High Court's Land Division in Dar es Salaam and was last heard on March 29, this year.