'Cult' in court over exhumed bodies

Associated Press/June 28, 2003

Johannesburg, South Africa -- Fifteen people, apparently members of a religious cult, appeared in court today in connection with the discovery of eight bodies exhumed from their church compound.

An angry crowd protested outside the Umtata District Court as three senior members of the church were released on bail of $US65 ($98) each.

The remaining 12, who were also in court, had been freed on Monday on bail of $US39 ($A59) each, the South African Press Association reported.

The group was arrested after the bodies were dug up from the yard of the Awaiting Christ Church in Umtata, 870km south-east of Johannesburg.

Police detective Bongani Ntanjana had earlier urged Magistrate Molden Hower to keep the 15 in custody to protect them from the community's rage.

The accused had to be driven from the court in police vehicles, some of them armoured, when the crowd threatened them.

The case was postponed to September 1, and the accused were ordered not to go near the compound until the case had been finalised.

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