Another stolen cross returned

Father Jeremiah Gama's stolen crucifix has been returned but not without damage.

The second of three crosses which were stolen from St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Lentegeur, has been returned.

The first cross was returned shortly after it was stolen from the church on Tuesday February 19.

The crosses belong to Father Nkululeko Meyiwa of Khayelitsha, Father Siyabonga Dube from St Stephen’s in Rocklands and St Mary Magdalene parish priest Father Jeremiah Gama. To date, Mr Dube’s cross has not been recovered.

The crosses were stolen while mass was being celebrated. At the end of the service, the priests returned to the back of the church to fetch their crosses where they had been stored in a drawer and discovered that they were gone. 

The crucifixes are given to Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) priests during the final phase of their formation and are passed down among priests from generation to generation. OMI is a missionary congregation within the Catholic Church. Mr Gama said all the crosses are of immense sentimental value.

Two days after the theft, the first cross was returned by a good Samaritan who wanted no reward and to remain anonymous.

He had seen an article about the stolen crosses in a newspaper after he had bought it from a rubbish collector that same day. 

The first that was recovered belonged to Mr Meyiwa and, at 100 years old, is the oldest of the three crosses.

This morning the Plainsman received a message from Mr Gama saying that a second cross had been recovered.

“This one belongs to me,” he said. “It was damaged on the sides and my name’s removed and also a back wooden panel was removed.”

Previously Mr Gama had told the Plainsman that the cross had been handed down to him from his own parish priest, a Belgian who had worked in South Africa for many years, after his death.

“He inspired me to become a priest,” Mr Gama said.

Mr Gama said a good Samaritan had bought the cross for R80 but took it to St Stephen’s once he discovered that it had been stolen. 

“We are delighted that it has been found but one more cross still needs to be found,” Mr Gama said.