Disregard “unofficial” Reports on Missing Priest: Catholic Archbishop in South Africa

Fr. Bheki Monamoholo Motloung. Credit: Durban Archdiocese

The Archbishop of South Africa’s Durban Archdiocese has cautioned against unofficial reports, “especially those distributed on social media”, on Fr. Bheki Monamoholo Motloung who has been missing since Pentecost Sunday, June 5. 

In a Friday, July 1 statement, Archbishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara urges the faithful in the South African Archdiocese to refrain from believing and spreading "unfounded rumors" about the missing Catholic Priest on social media platforms.

Archbishop Jwara also calls on the people of God to continue praying for the 55-year-old Parish Priest of St. Yves Bergville. 

"With respect to media statements or reports on this matter, especially those distributed on social media, I would like to make it known that the only official sources of information are statements issued from the Archdiocese of Durban, the Office of the Police Chaplain and/or the South African Police Service,” the South African Archbishop says. 

He adds, "You will be informed through these official channels of any updates. Please do not engage in the spread of unfounded rumors from unofficial sources." 


In an interview with ACI Africa June 15, the Chaplain of the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the Durban Archdiocese said Fr. Motloung “went missing on Pentecost Sunday after attending a Minister's Fraternity at the Lutheran Church in eDukuza.”

Fr. David Sithole added in reference to the missing Catholic Priest, “He was the first to leave that night after dinner.”

In a July 1 update shared ACI Africa, Fr. Sithole expressed concern about “circulating rumours and media reports” speculating that Fr. Motloung’s body had been found.

“Until such time that the work of the task team is concluded, any informal or unofficial information which is not released by the Archbishop, the Vicar General or the Police Chaplain must be regarded as falsehood and misleading to the public, the affected parish of Bergville and the family.” Fr. Sithole said.

The South African Priest told ACI Africa about a thorough search operation on June 29. 

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He said that SAPS officials from Ladysmith, Newcastle, Bergville, Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt, and Upper Tugela along with Okhahlamba Fire, Search and Rescue team conducted a search operation along the “Banana Bridge”, which crosses Woodstock Dam.

In his July 1 statement, Archbishop Jwara asks for continued prayers for Fr. Motloung.

“Let us continue praying for the safety of Fr. Bheki," the Local Ordinary of Durban Archdiocese says, and adds, “The Police are working very hard searching for him but unfortunately, they have not made any breakthrough yet.” 

On June 21, the Archbishop of Durban asked the people of God under his pastoral care to seek the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint for the recovery of lost items, to find Fr. Motloung.

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.