EASTERN Province police commissioner Alex Chilufya says police rescued a foreign Catholic priest who was beaten up by Mchini residents this week after they mistook him for a criminal.
In an interview yesterday, Chilufya said residents beat up Fr Camille Konkobo, who is from Burkina Faso, but based at a newly opened Catholic seminary in Chipata, thinking he was a criminal since he could not express himself in the local languages.
“When the people saw him, they were suspicious, they thought he was one of the criminals terrorising their neighbourhoods and he couldn’t speak their language. He could not express or explain himself, so that’s how people pounced on him but he was rescued by police. Police were alert, police do patrols,” Chilufya said.
He said at the police station, Fr Konkobo explained that he was a priest who went to the area under the Catholic Church seminary project.
“So he was brought in as one of the lecturers, so as police, we called in the Auxiliary Bishop Benjamin Phiri to identify him and he identified him as one of the foreign Catholic priests brought in at the seminary. He (Fr Konkobo) is a Burkinabe, he is from Burkina Faso, so you can understand why he couldn’t express himself to the local people,” Chilufya said.
He said the priest was then taken to Chipata General Hospital for treatment of the injuries he suffered from the beating.
“So what I want you to understand is that he wasn’t beaten as a priest; he was mistakenly beaten because people thought he was a criminal in the area and he couldn’t explain himself to the people,” said Chilufya.