Congregations in Naturena, who use tents as their places of worship, regularly arrive at their makeshift temples to find the tents have collapsed after thieves made off with the supporting poles.
It appears that they sell the poles to scrapyards.
In some instances entire tents have disappeared.
One congregation, tired of the thefts, have decided not to use steel poles for their tent church, but to erect a shack-like church using corrugated iron sheets instead.
Pastor Muzi Shongwe of the Victory Bible Church in Extension 19 is one of the pastors who experienced the might of the thieves.
“They once stole the sides of our tent. As for the poles, they took them almost every week. It came to a point where we had neither the sides (of the tent) nor the poles. It would just be the top part of the tent (remaining),” he said.
One morning two weeks ago, Shongwe was at work when he received a call from his niece, who informed him that thieves had stolen what was left of the tent.
“I was devastated. I asked myself how on earth they could do that. The fact that they went to the extent of taking everything – it was a setback,” he said.
For the past two weeks, the church had to hire a tent.
But this week they sang and praised the Lord in a new tent bought by Reverend Motlalepule Chabaku.
The elderly cleric and well known activist said it was a shame that churches in Naturena were becoming the target of criminals. She warned the thieves that they were inviting ill luck by stealing from churches.
To prevent their donated tent from being targeted, the congregation dismantles the tent after every service.
“It’s time consuming but we can’t take the risk anymore,” Shongwe said.