Slain Priest Underpaid for "Sexual Favours"

By Kashiefa Ajam
September 18, 2010

The man accused of killing Randfontein priest Father Lionel Sham has confessed he did so because the Roman Catholic priest shortchanged him after they had sex.

This week, the detailed confession of Phillip Velaphi Malgas, who stands accused of the aggravated robbery and brutal murder of the priest in March this year, was admitted to court. He outlined in graphic detail the nature of his relationship with the priest.

But today the Saturday Star can reveal that this is not the first time Sham had sex with young men. Sham, who once managed Boys Town in Magaliesberg and served the parish of St James and Hekpoort, used to pay one of the boys to have sex with him during the early 1980s.

As a young man beset with drug and alcohol problems, he told a drug counsellor what had happened.

The young man confessed to robbing Sham's home a few times. He said he had never been prosecuted as Sham had never laid charges for fear of what he would reveal.

Sham joined Bishop Reginald Orsmond, the founder of Boys Town, in 1972, becoming principal after Orsmond left to become bishop of Johannesburg in 1984 until his death in 2002.

Three years ago, former Boys Town pupil Mario D'Offizi revealed in his memoirs, Bless Me, Father, how the late bishop had regularly raped and sexually molested him. D'Offizi was 13 and a resident of Boys Town in the 1960s when he was first abused.

The abuse went on for three years, and included being plied with alcohol before being forced to perform sexual favours for the cleric.

Yesterday, D'Offizi said he had never known Sham as he had left before he arrived. D'Offizi's brother, though, had been at Boys' Town under Sham, and when he died as a young man, the family had asked Sham to officiate at the funeral.

Three years ago, D'Offizi's friend, a drugs counsellor, revealed that he had counselled a youngster abused by Sham. Sham phoned D'Offizi after the publication of his memoirs, offering pastoral support. "I turned him down flat," said D'Offizi, "I wanted nothing from him."

Yesterday, the counsellor verified D'Offizi's claims.

This week, acting High Court Judge Nathan Jacobs accepted that Malgas's confession was voluntary. Earlier in the week, Malgas wanted the confession thrown out, claiming police officers had forced him to "manufacture the lies". In the statement, Malgas outlined in graphic detail a sexual relationship with the priest. He said he had taken part in the murder and robbery because Sham had not been "truthful to me".

Malgas made the confession to a Randfontein magistrate on March 9, two days after his arrest.

Malgas stated that the dispute began on February 27 last year, when Sham invited him to his Catholic Church mission house in Mohlakeng, Randfontein.

"The appointment was such that I should come over and help him to masturbate. He used to give me R200 to help him masturbate. When I gave him oral sex, he gave me R500 cash.

"That week, he only gave me R40 instead of R200. This drove me to plan to rob him as I felt used and not paid properly," Malgas wrote.

He said the plan to rob Sham had been brought up by his dead accomplice, Daniel Mpevu. Malgas said he had agreed, "prompted by the fact that I felt used by the priest after my sexual favour for him. I was upset and kept quiet and left. I did not hug him as usual, I just left saddened."

He told how he had gone to the mission house on February 27, but Sham was not at home. When they found Sham at his house preparing supper, the priest had offered them food. The two - Mpevu armed with a knife - forced Sham into his bedroom and demanded cash. He gave|a detailed account of how they tortured Sham until he agreed to show them a drawer where he kept money. Each of them had shared R7 000 before bundling Sham and his household items into his car. They drove off to the veld and left Sham at De Deur in the Vaal region.

"We tied him in a crunching (crouching) position. We taped his mouth and nose so that he could not breathe. We left him for dead and drove away to some town," Malgas said in the statement. "There we bought a KFC bucket full of chicken and two litres of Coke."

They also bought alcohol. He claimed he returned to the veld to give food to Sham, but he was dead. The trial continues. - Additional reporting by Baldwin Ndaba


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