THE Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference says it is deeply disturbed by the gruesome killing of a catholic nun who was gunned down by a 35-year-old priest last month.
The gruesome incident occurred at the Maryland Mission in the Leribe district with close sources saying this could have been a crime of passion as the two were in romantic relationship.
The sources said the nun, also aged 35, was shot dead allegedly because the priest could not stomach her attempts to end what was said to be an abusive relationship.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli confirmed the shooting incident.
“A 35-year-old nun serving at the Maryland Mission in Leribe was allegedly short dead at the residence of the 35-year-old priest serving at the same mission,” Supt Mopeli said, adding, “The suspect handed himself to the police and is currently in police custody”.
Supt Mopeli added that after the shooting incident, the suspect and the deceased’s sister rushed the nun to Motebang Hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.
And on Monday, Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference released a statement, saying they were deeply disturbed by the nun’s murder.
“It is with deepest regret that we write to you regarding the death of a Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary nun which took place within the church at the Maryland Mission Leribe.
“You became aware of it issue after it was widely reported on radios and online. It has been established that a nun died of gunshots at the hands of a priest on 18 May 2018.
“The Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference is deeply disturbed by this shocking loss of life that should not have never taken place under any circumstances. Life is the gift of God and God Himself created a human being in His image – Genesis 1:27,” reads part of the statement which was signed by the Bishop of Leribe, Augustinus Tumaole Bane O.M.I and the Archbishop, Tlali Gerard Lerotholi O.M.I.
The bishops said the shooting incident had been reported to the law enforcement agencies and that it was their belief that the matter would be handled without fear and that no one will be discriminated against.
The bishops also said the church had its own structures which were already dealing with the matter.
If charged and convicted of murder, the priest could be dismissed from the priesthood in terms of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law which states that a member may be dismissed for homicide, kidnapping and injuring another person.
Canon 1397 states that anyone who commits homicide or who fraudulently or forcibly kidnaps, detains, mutilates or seriously wounds a person “is to be punished with deprivations and prohibitions”.
The law further states that “a member must be dismissed for these delicts since they are crimes against human life and liberty and bring infamy on the religious institute”.
“In a case of a sexual offence, the competent superior may decide against dismissal and deal with the issue in a more effective way. It is important that reparation for scandal be made and that there be restitution for any injustice,” Canon 695 states.
The bishops further appealed to all Catholics to pray for the unity of the church and all its leadership structures. They also exhorted Christians against losing hope because of the nun’s murder.
The gruesome murder is the latest in the long series of violence and killings of women and children which continue to taint the history of this country.
In January this year, the Ntširele community in Khubetsoana, Maseru was shocked by the brutal murder of prominent businesswoman ‘Mathabang Radiile (53), allegedly by her live-in partner, Lebohang Nkuebe (41).
Ms Radiile’s four months old grand-daughter was seriously injured after being sprayed with acid in one of the most gruesome cases of women and child abuse in Lesotho.
Mr Nkuebe (41) subsequently appeared in court over the murder and the case is still on-going.
Last year, there were several cases of the killings of women and children that were reported. The violence and killings are part of wider global scourge which the World Bank says affects one in every three women.
In April this year, the World Bank published an article which showed that globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
The World Bank also reported that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. It further revealed that seven percent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone else other than their partner.
“One characteristic of Violence against Women and Girls is that it knows no social or economic boundaries: this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries, and affects women of all socio-economic backgrounds.
“When speaking about violence against women and girls, it is important to remember that this issue involves both men and women and requires a holistic approach. The overwhelming majority of violence is perpetrated by men, and addressing male perpetration is a critical part of addressing the violence,” the World Bank states in its article titled ‘Violence against Women and Girls’.
The World Bank also said it had committed US150 million in development projects around the world aimed at addressing violence against women and girls.