South African Police Working “round the clock” to Find Missing Catholic Priest: Chaplain

Fr. Bheki Monamoholo Motloung. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The police in South Africa are working day and night to locate Fr. Bheki Monamoholo Motloung, a member of the Clergy of Durban Archdiocese who has not been traced since Pentecost Sunday, June 5, the Chaplain of the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the South African Archdiocese has said.

The Local Ordinary of Durban Archdiocese, Archbishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara, broke the news of Fr. Motloung’s disappearance in a June 14 statement, saying the Parish Priest of St. Yves Bergville went missing after celebrating Pentecost Sunday Mass at the church. 

In an interview with ACI Africa, the SAPS Chaplain, Fr. David Sithole said, “The police are working around the clock to find the missing Priest; we are hopeful that Fr. Bheki will be found.”  

“As the Archbishop has said in a statement yesterday, we ask for continued prayers for Fr. Bheki’s safety, for his family and for his safe return,” Fr. Sithole added during the Wednesday, June 15 interview.

Fr. Motloung “went missing on Pentecost Sunday after attending a Minister's Fraternity at the Lutheran Church in eDukuza”, the SAPS Chaplain said, and added in reference to the missing Catholic Priest, “He was the first to leave that night after dinner.”


“Normally Pastors from different churches meet to share pastoral experiences. Fr. Bheki was last seen around 21h30 when he left the group, which included pastors from the Lutheran church and the Anglican church”, Fr. Sithole told ACI Africa June 15.

The news about the missing South African Priest is shocking and scary, the SAPS Chaplain said, and continued, “In my 11 years working as a Priest in this Archdiocese (Durban) I have never heard of such. As far as I am concerned this is the first incident. It comes as a shock to all of us; it’s something new for us, for a Priest to just disappear like that.”

“I will be honest with you, it is scary; it has brought fear to some of us members of the Clergy,” Fr. Sithole told ACI Africa during the June 15 interview, and added, “The common feeling is of fear; it brings fear because we don’t know the motive at this stage; what is the motive behind the whole saga?”

In a separate interview, the liaison person between the Archdiocese of Durban and the SAPS investigative team said that although Fr. Motloung’s car tracker has been disabled, the police have sought other means of tracing the missing Catholic Priest’s whereabouts.

“What we have discovered is that there’s no tracker to trace the vehicle, but we are working with the cell phone and other gadgets to trace. So far, the SAPS is working day and night trying to find the missing Reverend," Brigadier Thobelile Shazi told ACI Africa June 15. 

More in Africa

Brigadier Shazi, a parishioner of Montclair Sacred Heart Catholic Church, also called on the faithful to be optimistic that the Priest will be “found alive”. 

“All I can say is, people must not lose hope. We are working round the clock, day and night," she said, adding that SAPS is working with community members to find the missing Priest. 

Brigadier Shazi said, “We are not working in silos; we are working in conjunction with other stakeholders including communities in Bergville. Other units of the SAPS have also offered their expertise to ensure that the missing Priest is found alive."

She recognized the help from members of the the local community in the search for Fr. Motloung.

The South African Brigadier told ACI Africa, “In this case, initial investigation was conducted by the members of the South African police, inclusive of all the units in the SAPS. Community members, including parish community and the local security law enforcement were also of great help in conducting the search."


Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.