Cathedral’s stolen items recovered

St Mary's Cathedral in Roeland Street
Some of the items stolen during a burglary at St Mary’s Cathedral in Roeland Street were recovered in Khayelitsha – some 30km from where they were stolen. 

Last Wednesday, May 13, the church management went to identify items at the police station and found the two silver candelabra next to a tabernacle, as well as another two candelabra and four gold-plated candelabra in pieces. The ciborium inside the tabernacle was also recovered, as well as a chalice, paten set, a paten dish and a sanctuary lamp.  

The items were found when someone tried to sell them to a minister handing out food parcels in the township. However, he recognised them as the items which had been stolen on Saturday April 18 (Read more).

The church is currently closed due to the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

On the day of the burglary, the dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral, Reverend Rohan Smuts, said he received a call from the caretaker of the chancery saying that the tabernacle of the church was missing.

He and the assistant priest at the church rushed to the premises and found that the cathedral had been burgled. A number of priceless candelabra and some liturgical vessels including a ciborium, a chalice and two patens were also taken. The tabernacle was has been forced open and broken into pieces and the Eucharist was strewn inside of what was left of the tabernacle and on the carpet.

The matter was reported to Cape Town Central police.  

However, a week later, Mr Smuts said he received a call from a minister in Khayelitsha, saying that he recognised items a man had tried to sell to him as items from the church.

Mr Smuts said when the minister told the man he believed the items to be stolen goods, he abandoned the loot and ran away. 

“The minister insisted I come to Khayelitsha to collect the items since he did not want to keep them. I told him that since it was an active investigation, the police had to arrange for collection and take his statement.”

He said after police hadn’t met with the minister at the arranged time, the minister dropped off the items at Cape Town Central SAPS. 

“On Friday April 24, the police came to the Presbytery in Vredehoek to ask us to come to the station to identify the items. However, when we went, the station had been closed due to a positive Covid-19 case (Read more). The investigating officer called to apologise and arrange another meeting, but this, too did not materialise. I sent the investigating officer a message expressing displeasure that nothing had happened since the items have been found.”

Last week, Mr Smuts was finally able to identify the items. “These items were broken and will need to be fixed by various artisans. The microphone as well as the Pyx and Lunette that was in the Tabernacle had not been found.”

Cape Town Central police spokesperson Captain Ezra October confirmed that the items had been recovered in Khayelitsha. No arrests have been made.

He said any one with information about the suspects can contact Detective Captain Aby Draai at 083 530 9874, or Saps Emergency Crime Stop number 08600 10111.