MASERU — Catholics are still in shock after the church’s radio station in Maseru was gutted by fire on Thursday afternoon — just a week after their cathedral was ransacked.
Thursday was, ironically, Ascension Day — the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s going to heaven.
The fire broke out around 4pm just as mass in the hall at the cathedral was about to end, according to church officials.
The source of the fire is not known and church officials have reported the matter to the police.
Studio equipment — including a mixer, CDs and files — was destroyed.
The radio station immediately went off air but was back on Friday evening.
Theresia Mofomobe, a member of the Catholic Radio board, said mass was about to end when they heard an explosion.
She however said they ignored the sound “thinking it could have come from anywhere in the busy town streets”.
Mofomobe said they were only alerted about the fire minutes later when a member of the congregation who was outside the hall saw smoke billowing from the roof.
“A member of the church who was outside the church came rushing and told a priest that there was a fire,” Mofomobe said.
“The congregants quickly exited through the back doors.”
She said they were shocked by the incident which happened just a week after robbers hit the church’s cathedral and made off with sacramental bread, the priests’ robes and other valuables.
“We were shocked. Some of us were praying, others were singing and crying to God,” Mofomobe said.
“We were all touched by the incident especially as we were still trying to come to terms with the robbery.”
She said the church will set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the robbery and the cause of the fire.
“We are yet to calculate the cost of the destruction,” she said.
“But most of the costly radio equipment was destroyed.
“We also do not know the cause of the fire.
“Police investigations will hopefully tell what could have caused it.”
Bishop Sebastian Khoarai said they were shaken by the two incidents.
He said the robbery was an insult to the “Holy Sacrament”.
“We are embarrassed by the robbery. It is an insult to our church,” the bishop said.
“The Holy Sacrament of Eucharist has been desecrated. We need prayers.”
On Friday the devastated Catholic community gathered at the hall to assess the damage.
They said they had never seen anything like that before.