Church strug­gling to deal with ‘brazen’ thieves

The Mercury - - METRO - KAILENE PIL­LAY | kailene.pil­ LEON LESTRADE African News Agency (ANA)

EVEN places of wor­ship are not safe from the scourge of crime af­ter thieves stole cop­per sheet­ing from the roof of a 147-year-old Dur­ban church on two oc­ca­sions this week.

The 150-year-old or­gan at St Cyprian’s Angli­can Church on Um­bilo Road was also dam­aged by the rain that seeped through the roof on Wed­nes­day night.

Se­nior priest Fa­ther Dane Elsworth said the church “was leak­ing like a sieve” when he en­tered yes­ter­day.

Thieves climbed on to the roof and cut the mem­brane that cov­ered the cop­per sheet­ing with a knife and a pair of scis­sors, both of which were found aban­doned on the roof.

Elsworth said the first in­ci­dent hap­pened on Mon­day night.

Asses­sors from the in­sur­ance com­pany were called and the leaks in the roof con­tained.

How­ever, the thieves struck again on Wed­nes­day night, leav­ing the church in a worse state. The paint­work in­side was dam­aged, the re­cently re­fur­bished wooden floors were de­stroyed, and the rain left a gap­ing hole in one part of the ceil­ing.

“In the old days, the roofs were sealed with cop­per and then cov­ered with an­other build­ing ma­te­rial.

“I have no idea how the thieves even knew there was cop­per in the roof,” he said.

Fa­ther Elsworth said the church had been hit hard in re­cent years by crim­i­nals.

All the cop­per taps and elec­tri­cal wiring was stolen, leav­ing the church with­out any ex­ter­nal light­ing. Be­fore that, all the cop­per down­pipes were stolen in an overnight raid. There have also been at least eight break-ins at the ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice.

Elsworth also re­mem­bered on one night, at about 3am, he heard sounds on the roof of his home, which is on the church prop­erty.

“I was in bed. I looked up and there was a man with a brick in his hand, ready to drop it on my head,” he said.

Brass memo­rial plaques were also stolen from their Re­mem­brance Gar­den, forc­ing the church to re­place them with cheaper, plas­tic-like plaques.

“Peo­ple have be­come so brazen. This is a church and even churches aren’t safe any­more. The po­lice re­ally need to start look­ing into those who buy scrap metal be­cause those own­ers should be ask­ing the peo­ple where they are get­ting the cop­per from,” he said.

Elsworth said they were look­ing into im­ple­ment­ing cost-ef­fec­tive se­cu­rity mea­sures, but the church prop­erty was so big that they were con­cerned at the amount re­quired to prop­erly se­cure the area.

“If any­one has any ideas or wants to of­fer help in any way, we would ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

DOC­TOR NGCOBO African News Agency (ANA)

FUNNY MAN Amer­i­can co­me­dian and ac­tor Chris Tucker is in Dur­ban for his one-man show at the Dur­ban ICC tonight. Tucker, who is tour­ing Dur­ban for the first time, said he was im­pressed by the green­ery and ar­chi­tec­ture. Apart from im­mers­ing him­self in the city’s cul­ture for his show, Tucker said he was keen to try out some Dur­ban curry. He is known for play­ing the role of Smokey in F Gary Gray’s Fri­day and as De­tec­tive James Carter in the Rush Hour film se­ries along­side Jackie Chan. |

FA­THER Dane Elsworth at ‘the light­ing of the can­dles’ at St Cyprian’s Church. |

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