For the past two weeks, Sunday mornings in Salt River have been missing a very significant sound – that of the bells at St Luke’s Anglican Church on Salt River’s Main Road, which is more than a century old and which were stolen from the entrance of the church.
Church warden Errol Johns could not confirm when exactly the bells were stolen, but said they had gone missing between Wednesday and Thursday sometime. “They have been hanging there for over a hundred years and it’s very sad that the bells were stolen, as they were very much a part of the church and still in use,” Mr Johns said.
The bells, made by railway workers, were used to signal the start of church sessions, celebrate wedding ceremonies and also to alert the community that there was a funeral at the church.
“After they were stolen, an elderly member of the Salt River community passed away and several people of the community, including Muslims, attended the service when it was noticed that the bells were missing,” he said.
The parish is frantically searching for the missing bells, which was very much a part of the character of the church, which was built in 1899. “Many people are very upset about the bells that were stolen. That sound was well-known in this community as we frequently used the bells and they were not just there as ornaments,” Mr Johns said.
Staring at the spot where the bells were once hanging, Michelle Jacobs from Woodstock had an unmistakeably angry expression on her face. “It’s utterly disgusting for somebody to come onto church grounds and steal something so significant, so historical and so valuable to certain members of the community. It shows a lack of respect to everybody,” she said.
“I can only imagine this was some drug addict who has destroyed his or her mind to such an extent that they can no longer differentiate between right or wrong. The only answer is, God has to deal with these people.”
Salt River’s Ruben Knight is also a member of the church and the news of the bells being stolen upset him. “I have been going to church at St Lukes for nearly all my life. Those bells were something you quickly associated with the church and for them to just be missing or stolen like that is quite bad. Don’t people have feelings any longer?” Mr Knight asked.
He called on the local police to intensify their investigation into the matter in order to recover the stolen bells, saying: “That is a part of history at this church and it needs to be returned. These druggies will just end up selling them to a scrap dealer to make a quick buck and not thinking about the historical significance thereof.”
The Tatler attempted to find out from the Woodstock police station how the investigation was progressing, but were unable to get comment from them at the time of going to print.
BLOB Anybody with information on the missing bells, can contact Mr Johns on 072 727 8689.