Church ‘desecrated’ in burglary

A stolen bakkie was recovered by Cape Town Central Improvement District.

A burglary at St Mary’s Cathedral in Roeland Street has left the church desecrated.

The dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral, Reverend Rohan Swarts, said he received a call from the caretaker of the chancery on Saturday April 18, saying that the tabernacle of the church was missing. he church is closed due to the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Reverend Swarts said he had received a call from the alarm company the day before, informing him that the alarm had been activated.

The company said they would send a vehicle to let him know if there was any suspicious activity. On Saturday morning, he said the security company tried to contact him again, but his phone was on vibrate as he attended a service in Vredehoek.

“Around noon, I received a call from a tenant living at the old Cathedral Presbytery, asking me whether I had received phone calls from the security company. The tenant and the caretaker then went to the cathedral and called me about a minute later and said I must come immediately and that the tabernacle is gone.”

He and the assistant priest at the church rushed to the premises and found that the cathedral had been burgled. A number of priceless candelabra and some liturgical vessels including a ciborium, a chalice and two patens were also taken.

“The tabernacle has been forced open and broken into pieces and the Eucharist was strewn inside of what was left of the tabernacle and on the carpet. This very act constituted the desecration of the cathedral.”

He said the matter was reported to the police, and he arranged for a security officer at the property, since the cathedral was vulnerable with the point of entry still exposed.

“The SAPS detectives came through on Sunday afternoon to take fingerprints and items of clothing, belonging to the perpetrators, that had been left behind. On Monday, we had the point of entry boarded up and cleaned up the cathedral.”

Cape Town Central police spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said no one had been arrested yet for the burglary, during which the damage and value of the goods stolen was estimated at R100 000.

Reverend Swarts said as the clergy, they were truly saddened that the church was burgled, but more so with the act of desecration.

“We will perform our act of reparation as an archdiocese for this heinous act and look forward to the opportunity to celebrate Holy Mass in the cathedral.

“As it is the Season of Easter, in which we commemorate and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, it reminds us as Christians that God is able to make good by overcoming evil. We cling to this truth in this difficult time for the Cathedral Parish and the Archdiocese of Cape Town as a whole.”

Anyone with information regarding the burglary can contact Detective Captain Aby Draai at 083 530 9874, or Saps Emergency Crime Stop number 08600 10111. The information will remain anonymous.

Cape Town Central Improvement District assistant security manager, Alec van der Rheede was applauded by police for recovering a stolen vehicle in Roeland Street on Wednesday April 15.

While responding to a complaint in an apartment complex regarding theft out of a motor vehicle, Mr Van der Rheede went to check if the vehicle was still on the scene.

“Low and behold, it was, parked in a loading zone,” he said.

After talking to owners at a nearby store, he discovered that the bakkie had been there for three weeks. After contacting the police to do a vehicle check, it emerged that the bakkie was stolen in February.

Captain October said the owner of the vehicle was traced to Tokai and confirmed it was their car. He said footage had been released which may assist in the arrest.

On Wednesday April 15, a man was arrested on the corner of Long and Hope streets for possession of drugs. He was found with 10 units of dagga, and R31 000 cash.

On the same day, the police were patrolling in Adderley Street when they stopped a vehicle driving behind them. Captain October said after searching the vehicle, police found six cellphones and a tablet behind the seat, which the driver could not answer for. The man was arrested for possession of stolen property and lockdown contraventions. Also on Wednesday, police arrested a man in Adderley Street for possession of car breaking implements and lockdown contraventions. After searching the suspicious looking man, police found a remote-jamming device in his underwear. The man confessed to using the device to steal from cars.