Copper stolen from church roof — three times in six days

08 November 2018 - 14:22 By BONGANI MTHETHWA
Father Dane Elsworth looks up at the damage caused to the St Cyprian’s Anglican Church in Umbilo, Durban, on November 8 2019.
Father Dane Elsworth looks up at the damage caused to the St Cyprian’s Anglican Church in Umbilo, Durban, on November 8 2019.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Thieves struck the St Cyprian’s Anglican Church three times in one week, stealing copper plating from the roof.

It seems that even the most sacred places are not immune from the spiralling crime at Durban’s Umbilo suburb, which has seen a spike in house robberies, muggings and car theft.

On Wednesday night last week, thieves hit the church, stealing copper from the roof sheeting. They struck again just six days later, and again stole copper from the roof on Tuesday night.

As if that was not enough they struck again the next day.

The three thefts left rector Father Dane Elsworth frustrated, as the theft has left the church with hundreds of rands worth of damage. The church’s organ, worth R3m, was also damaged because of a leaking roof as a result of the copper theft.

“It’s a huge frustration. The damage is worth hundreds of rands. Nobody cares. I did not even know that there was copper up there. Somebody very clued up recognised there was copper,” said Elsworth on Thursday.

Severe damage was caused to the St Cyprian’s church in Umbilo, Durban, after thieves stole copper roofing.
Severe damage was caused to the St Cyprian’s church in Umbilo, Durban, after thieves stole copper roofing.
Image: SUPPLIED

He also blamed the police for not taking action when he had opened a case after the first incident.

“Why don’t the police not have ample time to deal with these things? It started last week but we don’t have an answer from the police. This whole area is out of control; it’s hijackings, armed robberies, theft. It’s anarchy really,” said Elsworth.

The thieves have also stolen copper from the top of the lower drains on the walls of the church’s historic building, which was built in 1939.

The church has served the community for over 145 years.

But thieves have become so brazen that church members are forced to take their handbags with them when they go for communion for fear of them being stolen.

Police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele confirmed that a group of unknown people broke into the church on Wednesday last week and damaged electrical wires, a switch box and lights. The electrical wires were pulled out from the pipes and taken.

She said a cases of malicious damage to property and theft were opened at the Umbilo police station for investigation.

Places of worship have become soft targets for criminals.

Last month R50,000 was stolen during a church service in Phoenix, north of Durban, when men armed with AK47s and pistols stormed the church just before midday.

Ten pastors, who were holding a prayer, were told to lie down on the floor, while the heavily armed robbers stole their personal items which included cellphones, wallets, jewellery and cash.


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