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Thursday May 16, 2013

Cape Town church loses its historic railings, bit by bit

"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest... Leave them for the poor and the foreigner." - Leviticus 19:9-10.

So reads a sign in one of the vegetable pots bordering the Central Methodist Mission Church in the city centre. The church planted vegetable and fruit plants outside their walls to provide sustenance for the homeless and the hungry in the area.

Adrienne van der Merwe stands next to a stolen section of the cast iron fence in front of the Central Methodist Missionary church in Cape Town's city centre.

But thieves have stolen parts of the cast iron fence that surrounds the church and the garden and reportedly taken it to scrapyards to sell.

Three panels alone were taken in the last week.

"It's symbolic of society, of what is going on in the city", said Adrienne van der Merwe, creative co-ordinator for the church. "People are desperate for whatever they can lay their hands on in order to feed their addiction or their children."

Parts of the 100-year-old railing started to disappear last year and over three metres of panel have been taken to date.

"This is one of the signs of desperation for people. So even though one gets angered at this, we know it's a sign of desperation," said Alan Storey, who has been Pastor of the Central Methodist for five years.

Van Der Merwe said that to fix the problem independently would cost over R56 000, not including last week's thefts. In the meantime, massive gaps in the fence make it easier for people to dismantle it.

Such a tab would be a challenge for the church to cover, especially when there are more pressing issues to address.

"We have far more important things on our agenda, like human beings," said Storey. "We should be more angry about what causes people to steal than the actual fence being gone."

Cape Times


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