Church closes dairy farm after 10 robbery attacks

The Roman Catholic Church has been forced to close its productive dairy farm in Mariannhill, near Durban, because criminals continually robbed it.

The Roman Catholic Church has been forced to close its productive dairy farm in Mariannhill, near Durban, because criminals continually robbed it.

"We have decided to close our viable dairy farm because it was increasingly becoming a weak point in terms of security," said Father Gideon Sibanda.

The farm, which is a stone's throw away from the historic Mariannhill monastery, has been robbed 10 times in the past few years.

"The last robbery in January was the final straw - when 10 gun-wielding criminals assaulted Konrad Diethei, the monk who ran the farm, and stole more than R10000 in cash," Sibanda said.

The robbers also entered the monastery, demanding cash and valuables such as laptops from the priests who live there.

The incident shocked everyone at the monastery and they resolved to get rid of the farm.

Sibanda said more than 60 cows had been sold already and the rest would be sold as soon as possible.

"We decided to cease the whole operation, which included making yoghurt, selling calves and milk, because it was clear that we were risking the lives of our people," said Sibanda.

He said the church could not afford to improve security on the farm to prevent more attacks.

"It is a major blow to us as a church because the farm made us self-reliant - and it also helped to generate employment for many people for more than 30 years," Sibanda said.

"This is how crime affects institutions such as churches." - Sapa

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