Catholic priest commits suicide over sodomy

By Lucas Ng’asike

LODWAR; KENYA: A Catholic priest charged on Tuesday in a Turkana court for allegedly sodomising a student has committed suicide.

The priest, Father John Manzi was found dead hours later on Tuesday night at the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar in Turkana Central district.

The cleric had appeared before a Magistrate’s court in Lodwar where he denied the sodomy charges and was released on a Kshs 100,000 bond pending hearing of the case.

He was not to live to face trial as the priest hanged himself with an electric wire in his house hours after leaving court.

Turkana Central deputy OCPD, Mr John Onditi confirmed the priest’s death saying diocese workers discovered his lifeless body Tuesday night.

Onditi said circumstances that led to the death were still scanty but said they were linking his death to the sodomy case facing him in Court as investigations commence.

He added that preliminary investigations point to a troubled priest who was left to bear the burden of the case in solitude.

“We suspect that after he was left alone without being counseled, he could have been distressed about the case and decided to take his life,” Onditi told Journalists.

Sources at the diocese told The Standard that the priest sent workers at the compound to run him errands early Tuesday night.

“He sent them to various places to get him supplies. But it seems he did not want to be distracted as he took his life,” said our sources who did not wish to be named.

They added that the priest then put on his priesthood attire before he used an electric cord to end his life.

It was when the workers returned with the priest’s supplies and knocked on his door to deliver them that they found he had committed suicide.

Police were alerted about the incident and arrived at the priest’s house, launched investigations before moving his body to Lodwar district hospital mortuary.

Catholic priests and faithful in the neighbourhood were left in shock after word went round that the priest had committed suicide.

The priest appeared before a Lodwar court and charged with indecently committing the sodomy act contrary to section 11(A) of the sexual offences Act no.3 of 2006.

The priest pleaded not guilty before acting Principal Magistrate Harrison Barasa who set the case for hearing on June 5.

The priest was released on a bond of Kshs 100,000 with one surety of similar amount with the Magistrate saying he could pay a cash bail of Kshs 80,000 in the alternative.

The student had after the said incident reported the matter to the police while in the company of his parents and filed a P3 form accusing the priest of sodomising him.

On learning that the boy had lodged the complaint, the priest surrendered himself to Lodwar police station on Monday where he was arrested and arraigned in court.

It has also emerged that the priest had been educating the boy who is in Form Three after his parents were unable to pay his high school fees.