2007-10-18 : 'Ban criminals from churches and graveyards'

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2007-10-18 : 'Ban criminals from churches and graveyards'

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2007-11-06 07:06

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 966C724492

'Ban criminals from churches and graveyards'

October 18 2007 at 09:48AM

By Shaun Smillie

Just an hour after Father Allard Mmako had celebrated evening mass, he
lay dying on a road close to the Mpumalanga township he had elected to
serve spiritually.

Mmako died from a gunshot wound to his abdomen not long after being
given the last rites by his colleague Father Zweli Mlotshwa.

Earlier this week, a Requiem mass was held for Mmako at the St Charles
Catholic Church in Victory Park and to many of the priests who
attended the funeral they had lost a member of their family to a
senseless and brutal killing.

'If they are caught, they will simply get a slap on the wrist'
In an address at the funeral, the head of the Catholic Church in
Johannesburg, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, attacked the government and a
society he said seemed unable or unwilling to deal with crime.

"The justice system in this country, in an attempt to reverse or undo
the harshness or cruelty of the apartheid system, has simply softened
its policies and laws to a point where criminals feel that they can
commit murder and get away with it, or that if they are caught, they
will simply get a slap on the wrist," he said.

He went so far as to say that the church should ban criminals from
their congregations
and even their graveyards.

"Some of these heartless criminals claim to be members of our church
communities. Such criminals ought not to be buried from our churches.
Why should we bend backwards to accommodate cold-blooded murderers?"
he questioned.

His attack was also levelled at those who indirectly benefited from
the proceeds of crime.

"People who knowingly and consciously receive stolen property or
assist the criminals in their sordid trade are members of our church
community. They ought to be banned from receiving Communion."

To many who knew Father Allard, he was a gifted scholar who had only
recently followed his calling.

Fellow priests described him as a "creative person who could speak in
an inspiring and personal way about the Scripture".

"He was ordained five years ago and had worked in Nelspruit. But
recently moved up to Johannesburg were he was involved in training
young priests," said his superior, Father Peter Galloway.

The 42-year-old and was born in Lesotho but had spent five years
studying Scripture in Rome.

On occasion Mmako would return to Nelspruit to assist at the Holy
Cross Catholic church in Ka Nyamazane.

On the weekend of October 5, Mmako was in Nelspruit to stand in for a
priest at the Holy Cross church.

According to Galloway, on the night of Mmako's murder, the priest had
celebrated 6pm mass at the church.

"After mass he dropped off one of the members of the congregation and
was on his way back to St Peters in Nelspruit," said Galloway.

He was later found lying at the side of a road in Msogwaba township
and was taken to Themba hospital in Kabokweni. His car had been taken
in an apparent hijacking.

Mmako was transferred to Nelspruit Mediclinic, where he underwent
emergency surgery. At the time he was conscious, said Galloway, and
was responding to those around him.

Early the next morning, he died.

Several days after the priest's death, police in Nelspruit attempted
to apprehend a matric pupil, who they suspected was involved in the

The pupil, aged 25, escaped from Mayibuye High School, in Daantjie,
near Nelspruit, after he shot a police officer in the leg.

He is still on the run.

But while police hunt the suspect, around South Africa the priests who
knew Mmako have turned to prayer in an attempt to make sense of the
tragedy that has taken away one of their own.

"As we try to deal with such a sudden and tragic death, we recognise
that we have not only lost a brother, but a young priest entering the
prime of his ministry," Galloway wrote in an email to his colleagues.

o This article was originally published on page 13 of The Star on October 18, 2007
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