fast little loans
A retired bishop is without his gold bishop’s ring since he was robbed at knifepoint on the second floor of the old-age home at Mariannhill Monastery.
German-born Bishop Fritz Lobinger, 84, who was the Roman Catholic Bishop of Aliwal North, was sitting reading when a shabbily-dressed young man suddenly appeared in his study on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking good English, he demanded the bishop’s cellphone, money, computer and gold.
“I acted on the principle, don’t refuse,” Lobinger recalled.
“He couldn’t take a refusal. If he had got into the building, how would he get back out?
“He would have been bound to threaten me. He was young, I am old and I had no weapon.”
After taking his loot, the intruder then slipped out the building the way he had entered – through an open window and down a drainpipe.
He left his knife on the grass outside.
In spite of its tranquil setting, Mariannhill is no stranger to crime having been the scene of armed robberies involving firearms and theft of a sacred tabernacle that looked like a safe but contained only documents, said Lobinger.
Four years ago the monastery closed its farm because of crime.
This time, the criminal’s gentle victim understood how unfortunate souls like him fit into the world.
Lobinger’s career has taken him through studies and experiences of dealing with places with poverty and unemployment, where people have little sense of hope. He still travels and sees poverty elsewhere. his most recent trip was to Peru.
“Once people feel they have no hope, there is nothing to pursue,” he told The Independent on Saturday, sitting in the very chair in which he was robbed.
“In (Zulu and Xhosa) culture, stealing was impossible.
“It has come about in a dense population where there is no real community life. There are no community standards anymore.
“In an anonymous society you can hide and disappear. The restraints are gone.”
The bishop believes that robbers and thieves know they could be caught and one day end up in prison, where they have friends, and feel that success through hard work and good behaviour is “a path that is somehow lost to them”.
“It’s a vicious circle. Once you’re on that track, and known in the computers of the police and the factories, life won’t be easy… not only here but in many, many countries, especially those with rapidly developing and rapidly changing societies.”
Economic growth is essential, he stressed, to provide jobs for the youth, and others.
Lobinger went on to say that when people live in absolute poverty for a long time their dignity is diminished.
He stressed that people had inflicted “immense cruelty” on one another in times such as the two World Wars.
“And we got over it, so human nature is on the path of development, even if it’s very haphazardly so. We are moving towards a more humane society. Sometimes we may think we are going backwards but there is forward movement.”
He said that religion played its role but even that could be misused.
“There is no automatic cure, but to give up hope would be the worst thing to do.”
The retired bishop swung around his chair to face the new computer that has replaced the stolen one.
He opened a picture of the 131-year-old Mariannhill Mission as it was in its early days shortly after being founded by Trappist monks. The hills around it are bare. Today, those hills are heavily populated with poor people.
“We came here as missionaries to uplift the poor out of poverty,” he said.
“We always took the side of the poor and we still do.” -Independent on Saturday