Return of stolen cross gives priest hope for missing pair

Father Jeremiah Gama shows where the crosses were kept during the service.

A good Samaritan has returned one of the three Oblate crosses stolen from a Catholic church in Lentegeur last week.

The cross that was recovered, belongs to Father Nkululeko Meyiwa and, at 100 years old, is the oldest of the three crosses, which had been stolen while mass was being celebrated at St Mary Magdelene Catholic Church on Tuesday February 19.

The other two, which have not yet been recovered, belong to Father Siyabonga Dube from St Stephen’s Catholic Church in Rocklands and St Mary Magdalene parish priest Father Jeremiah Gama.

The crucifixes are given to Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) priests during the final phase of their formation, and have been passed down among priests from generation to generation. OMI is a missionary congregation within the Catholic Church.

The man who returned the cross wanted to remain anonymous and wanted no reward.

He had apparently spotted the cross, which Mr Gama last week described as having immense sentimental value, in possession of someone collecting garbage. It was only after the good Samaritan had bought the cross from the rubbish collector, that he read in the newspaper that it had been stolen from the church.

On Thursday, just after 8pm, the cross was returned to Mr Gama.

“It’s exciting and there is a glimpse of hope that the other two crosses will be found. I am full of hope and believe in the triumph of community. If we stand together we can do so many wonderful things in our community,” he said.

Sergeant Jerome Voegt from Mitchell’s Plain SAPS, confirmed the theft of the crosses and said anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the other two, should call Lentegeur police on 021 377 5000.