By Otuma Ongalo
Pictures cannot lie. This saying has always been universally acclaimed although recent technological advancements have cast doubts on its fidelity.
When the former Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube was accused of adulterous affair with Mrs Rosemary Sibanda, Catholic followers went up in arms. They accused President Mugabe’s regime of fabricating the allegations to prevent Ncube from commenting on human rights abuses.
Pius, a man widely considered pious, vowed he never touched Rosemary. His supporters swore the staunch man of God could neither break his celibacy vow nor be adulterous. When he was confronted with pictures, "the usually arrogant Archbishop Ncube went ashen, was at a loss of words and could hardly contain the shock." This is how one newspaper summed the saga.
The evidence was so incriminating that he quickly owned up, was defrocked, kept off anti-Mugabe campaign and has virtually disappeared from human rights radar.
- 1 Priest now faces criminal case for sodomy
- 2 Police probe attack on Fr Kizito's supporter
- 3 Father Kizito released from police custody for lack of evidence
At the height of post-election violence, KTN relayed a shocking footage of a bloodthirsty policeman trailing two unarmed youths. He showered them with bullets, kicked them and walked away casually. When police explained that the footage could have been acted the Hollywood style, the explanation became a laughingstock despite its sour taste. Police were reminded actors never die during filming.
It is also true that some computer wizards manipulate pictures to conjure images. However, this is mostly for entertainment and it is always clear the pictures are manipulated.
The fidelity or manipulative nature of pictures comes to mind following sex scandal allegations against Fr Renato Kizito and a harrowing experience after viewing some of the pictures purportedly capturing him in the act with a seemingly comatose boy. I have watched many weird images but I had never been so haunted. Whether the horror images are authentic or fake, I leave the verdict to investigators, Fr Kizito, his accusers and God.
But one thing is clear, justice must be done but before that, sobriety must prevail. Already, emotions are too high. On one hand, the Catholic Church has come out fighting to protect its integrity. Leaders fear that incrimination of one of their own would be a blot on the image of the church.
Beneficiaries and witnesses of Kizito’s philanthropy have come out fighting too. They cannot believe a man who has shown great passion for community and children can suddenly turn it upside down and engage in more than beastly acts.
Religious passion or past history should not muzzle investigation. It is true the Catholic Church is reeling from shocking sex scandals. Recently, Pope Benedict apologised for sexual abuse of minors by the clergy and called for justice.
John Cardinal Njue must be aware some of the leaders’ initiatives to push sex scandals under the carpet have ended up ignominiously. Boston Cardinal Benard Law’s tenure ended in ignominy after he turned a blind eye to lewd acts of priests in his archdiocese. Fr Kizito’s record is impressive but it cannot absolve him. Judas Iscariot was never a bad man until he betrayed Jesus. Neither should Kizito’s guilt or innocence imply the guilt or innocence of the Catholic Church.
On the other hand, public emotion should not be used to condemn Fr Kizito unfairly. Quite often, any case involving a person of Caucasian extraction draws immense public interest and calls for immediate justice, especially given the fact they often seem to get off the hook so easily. In a nation where greed and jealousy reign supreme, it is highly possible someone envies Kizito’s multi-billion Konoina empire. If this greed is the basis of the priest’s tribulations, the architects of the scandal deserve the punishment they should have wished for him. It is also possible that Kizito and his accusers are right and the sword of justice should cut both ways. But one thing is for sure, they cannot be both wrong.
—The writer ([email protected]
is The Standard Senior Editor, Production and Quality