Cardinal disturbs intruder

2012-08-17 00:00

CARDINAL Wilfrid Napier, the leader of the Catholic Church in South Africa, got a rude wake-up call yesterday morning when he found an intruder prowling around his Durban bedroom on all fours.

Startled by the invasion shortly before 5 am, Napier leapt from his bed and hollered at the man, whom he first mistook for a dog.

As Napier yelled, the intruder ran for the bathroom, locked the door behind him and scampered out the window.

“I sensed something in the room and saw this figure that looked like a dog on all fours. I jumped up and shouted,” Napier told The Witness yesterday.

The incident followed a burglary at the chancery on Sunday night which saw an unspecified number of computers stolen.

When staff arrived at the archdiocese in Morningside on Monday morning, they noticed the alarm system had been tampered with. Then they discovered burglars had struck, entering through the roof.

The burglars also removed digital storage devices. Napier said they found a back-up hard drive in a neighbouring garden, which was apparently left behind when the thieves fled.

From this hard-drive they were able to retrieve some of their lost data, Napier added.

“We’ve lost a lot of data. It is clear we are under a certain amount of surveillance and attack at the moment.”

Napier told his followers on micro-messaging website twitter that the church was under siege and revealed that two other parishes were burgled in the last month.

He told The Witness that these were parishes in Ballito and KwaDukuza (Stanger). In both incidents, computers were taken.

Napier said it couldn’t be discounted that the intruders were targeting certain information contained on the machines. But he speculated the thieves were probably more intent on stealing and selling the hardware on the black market.

Asked why he believed they were being targeted, Napier said: “We’re soft targets. They know we’re not armed.”

Guards have since been posted at the archdiocese and security installations have been beefed up. Napier said they were remaining “calm and vigilant”.

It is not the first time Napier has found himself the target of intruders. Toward the end of last year he returned from a function late at night and found something amiss in his quarters.

Clothes he had left in one room were found in another. He discovered a few personal items had been taken, as well as money from his pockets. Napier said his wallet with all his identification documents had been left behind.

“That was a cat burglar,” Napier said.

Then a few weeks later, another attempt was made to gain access through his bathroom window, but the intruder was unable to get in and left.

Police were still busy last night trying to confirm details of the various incidents.

• brett.horner@witness.co.za

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