Five people were killed outside a church near the South African capital as a hostage situation played out early on Saturday, local police announced.
The church is one of the largest - and reportedly richest - in South Africa.
It's believed that there are close to 200 hostages.
A group of armed people came into the church and allegedly attacked people inside indicating "they were coming to take over the premises", a police statement said.
The police commissioner said authorities are investigating "the possibility that this attack may have been motivated by a feud between conflicted parties of the church", which is used to factional struggles.
The crime scene is still being processed and the figures of arrests and firearms seized may fluctuate as the Special Task Force, Tactical Response Team and Visible Policing members continue to comb the compound.
Suspects of the attack who have been arrested by police.
Eyewitnesses say the men who stormed the International Pentecostal Holiness Church were part of a splinter group.
"I am certain that the speedy response by the joint security forces has averted what could have been a more severe blood bath", Sitole said in a statement Saturday.
Police have arrested several suspects while still engaging hostage negotiators.
In November 2018 two church factions confronted each other outside the church's Silo headquarters, News24 reported.
The International Pentecost Holiness Church, which has a membership of three million, has become divided in its search for a successor to former leader Glayon Modise.
It has not yet known been confirmed if today's hostage situation relates to the ongoing row.
Churchgoers at the time reported being narrowly hit by bullets.