…as priest shoots nun dead in a suspected crime of passion
LESOTHO has been rocked by yet another violent killing of a woman, this time by a 35 year-old Roman Catholic priest who allegedly gunned down a nun on Friday morning.
The gruesome incident occurred at the Maryland Mission in the Leribe district during the early hours of Friday 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 earlier today (Friday) 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,” he said.
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.
Sources close to the matter said this was probably a crime of passion as the two (names withheld) were involved in an abusive romantic relationship. The sources allege that the deceased’s previous attempts to end the affair had been resisted by the priest.
“The nun was a nurse and worked at the mission clinic. She had completed her night duty at about 3 am on that fateful morning.
“We don’t know why she passed through the priest’s house because she had already ended the affair on the grounds that she was tired of having him (the priest) point his gun at her every time they had an argument,” a source said.
Catholic priests and nuns are sworn to celibacy and according to another source, the two desperately sought to conceal their relationship because this not only tarnished their images but that of the Catholic Church as well.
The Bishop of Leribe, Bishop Augustinus Tumaole Bane O.M.I said he would only comment on the matter in a face to face interview with this reporter.
“I will not discuss the matter with you over the phone. You will have to come to St Monica’s, Leribe to get my comment on the matter,” Bishop Bane said.
It was however, not possible for this reporter to meet the Bishop before the time of publication.
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 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 were 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.
Last month, 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.