The priest continued chanting mantras on stage while a group of robbers held him and his congregation at gunpoint and took three vehicles in Sea Cow Lake on Monday night.
The congregation of about 50 at the Maha Shiv Mandir on Hippo Road, turned from devotees chanting prayers and being at peace, to utter chaos with victims falling over one another and pleading with the robbers to spare their lives.
Hindu devotees throughout the country are observing Gita Week and the Krishna Janmashtami festival.
A senior member of the temple, who would not be named, said the prayer service was completed but the priest was still on the stage, praying aloud from a script he had in memory and on his iPad which he held.
Women were robbed of their handbags, cellphones, necklaces and wedding rings.
“It was a horrible experience,” a woman said.
People were still in shock after the ordeal.
“They said to us not to scream, lift our heads, or place our hands on them. They trampled on us and walked on our backs to get between the aisles and to people,” another devotee said.
An undisclosed amount of cash was stolen from the collection box that would have been used to buy new statues.
The robbers also took three vehicles parked in the yard. A Hyundai i20 and a Toyota Hilux bakkie were recovered in KwaDabeka by a tracking company within minutes of the incident, and a Toyota Avanza is still being sought by police.
A devotee said she calmly asked one of the robbers to leave behind the receipts and temple documents book which were inside her handbag. The robber complied.
Source: Daily News