Bishops Appointed for South Africa’s Rustenburg and Witbank Dioceses

Bishop Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo (left) transferred from Eshowe Diocese to Witbank Diocese and Fr. Robert Mogapi Mphiwe (right) appointed Bishop for Rustenburg Diocese.

The Holy Father has, on Wednesday, November 25, announced the appointment of two Bishops for South Africa’s Dioceses of Rustenburg and Witbank, the latter being a Papal transfer.

The news of the appointment of Fr. Robert Mogapi Mphiwe as Bishop-elect for Rustenburg and the transfer of Bishop Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo from Eshowe Diocese to Witbank was published by the Holy See Press Office Wednesday, November 25

Fr. Robert who has been serving as the Vicar General of South Africa’s Archdiocese of Pretoria and Parish Priest of St. Thomas More in Centurion is expected to become the second Local Ordinary of Rustenburg.

Ordained a Clergy of Pretoria in November 1997, the 48-year-old South African Cleric will be succeeding Bishop Kevin Dowling, the 76-year-old member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists) whose retirement was officially accepted November 25.

The Bishop-elect holds a Licentiate in Liturgy from the Rome-based Pontifical University of Sant'Anselmo (the Anselmianum).


Following the news of Fr. Robert’s appointment, the leadership of the nine-nation Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) has congratulated the Bishop-elect and assured him of their  “support and prayers.”

On his part, Archbishop Dabulo Anthony Mpako of Pretoria where the Bishop-elect has been serving as Vicar General and Parish Priest has conveyed his best wishes to the new Prelate, expressing the hope that “this appointment may be a blessing to the whole Diocese.”

In his November 25 statement, Archbishop Mpako says, “While this is a loss to our Archdiocese, we are happy for the Diocese of Rustenburg to receive a new Bishop (who) has distinguished himself as a consummate leader in many ways.”

As the Local Ordinary of Rustenberg, the Bishop-elect will be shepherding some 45,200 Catholics in the 32,120 square kilometre Diocese

Meanwhile, Bishop Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo who has been transferred from South Africa’s Eshowe Diocese to Witbank will be succeeding Bishop Giuseppe Sandri who passed on in May 2019.

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Since then, the Diocese has been under the leadership of Fr. Molewe Machingoane as Diocesan Administrator. 

Bishop Xolelo, 66, was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Bethlehem in October 1991. 

As a Priest, he had served as the Parochial Vicar of Clocolan and Phuthaditjhaba in South Africa, Episcopal Vicar for Catechists, Rector of St. John Paul II Formation Centre, Vicar General of Bethlehem Diocese, among other services. 

He is an alumnus of the National Seminary of St. John Vianney, an affiliate of the Pontifical Urbaniana University.

The Diocesan Administrator of Witbank Diocese has expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father for the new Bishop who “indeed smells like the sheep.”


In his November 25 statement, Fr. Machingoane, on behalf of the people of God in Witbank Diocese “extends a  hearty and warm welcome” to the new Prelate. 

“I take this opportunity on behalf of the whole Diocese to congratulate Bishop Teddy and thank him for accepting to be our chief Shepherd. We are indeed delighted to have him as our Bishop and offer him our prayers and support,” Fr. Machingoane says.

As the eighth Bishop of Witbank, Bishop Xolelo will be tasked with shepherding around 100,000 Catholics in the 6 886 square-kilometre Diocese.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.