No blessings for fake priest

Police in the African nation of Malawi have arrested an alleged trickster accused of calling himself by the name of "Pastor Blessing Duwa" after using false papers to get himself ordained as a deacon and posing as a Catholic priest.

The Malawi paper The Voice reports that the man who delivered touching sermons during 40th anniversary celebrations for the southern African country's independence was arrested after posing as a priest in search of his long lost mother.

Confirming the arrest and detention of the alleged trickster, Gaborone Central Police Station Commander, Superintendent Takongwa Mazwiduma said, "We have such a person in our cells. He calls himself Pastor Blessing Duwa. We are investigating his stay in Botswana. We have established that he is using someone else's passport with his picture pasted on it. We will charge him at a later stage."

Mazwiduma went on to say that the police were also looking into the validity of Duwa's pastoral papers.

The local Church informed the police of Duwa's stay at a one of their houses shortly after the Church had questioned him about the legality of his documents.

Speaking to The Voice from the Gaborone Cathedral, Fr John said, "This man sent our Bishop a fax message last month claiming he was coming to Botswana to trace his mother named Nthabiseng.

"The fax message bore Malawi Cathedral coat of arms and the Bishop accepted it. He claimed his father had married this woman and that they separated when his father left for Malawi where he became the Bishop's driver. He also claimed that his father later died and the church brought him up."

"Duwa preached successfully but a problem arose when a visiting Malawian from their Diocese did not recognise him. The Bishop later made investigations into the authenticity of this man's pastoral documents and found them to be false," the priest said.

The bogus priest's luck eventually ran out when a member of the church Gertrude Selolwane tried to assist Duwa trace his mother because she allegedly shared her surname.

Selolwane revealed how she had phoned around the country in a bid to help the seemingly beleaguered priest to find his mother, Nthabiseng, but drew a blank.

"I spent a lot of money trying to locate several Nthabisengs only to find that the priest was a fake. There is no Nthabiseng. That man is a crook."

Fr John also revealed that Duwa had fooled the Malawi Catholic Church into ordaining him a deacon.

"He forged papers for him to be ordained as a Deacon. And, the letter he faxed to the Gaborone Cathedral was forged as well. He does not belong to any diocese," Fr John said.

"We will not dismiss him from the church. We will only pray for the conversion of his life," Fr John said.

Botswana: Gaborone Cathedral Nab a Fake Priest (The Voice, 31/10/06)

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Catholic Church Botswana (Catholic-Hierarchy)

2 Nov 2006