Thieves pillaging historic PE church

Holy Trinity Church in Havelock Square Port Elizabeth has suffered serious damage at the hands of thieves who strip copper and lead at night. The congregation fear more thefts and have appealed for support in protecting and repairing the historic building.

[notice]Help us protect this heritage building — members[/notice]

Brazen thieves have been relentlessly stripping the Holy Trinity Church in Central, Port Elizabeth, of copper and lead fittings , causing serious damage to the historic stone building.

In a series of night-time assaults the thieves have stripped lead lining and copper flashing off roofs resulting in major water leaks with in some cases irreparable damage to paint, documents, historical photographs, wooden furnishings , carpets and ceilings.  They have also removed wire mesh grilles protecting stain glass windows, provoking fears that the lead in the stained glass windows is being targeted. The church has 12 stained-glass windows with an estimated value of R400 000 each.

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Rector David Stansbury points out an area where copper flashing and lead lining have been riped out, exposing the church to rain damage.

“Even 100 year old memorial plaques are being ripped out of the walls to sell for scrap,” said church member Sandy Peasnall, who is overseeing a campaign to secure funding to protect and repair the building.

“My husband is going there with all his staff this morning to do temporary damage control to stop further damage due to the rain pouring in and now destroying the walls and the age old wooden pews,” she said today.

“We are doing enquiries regarding installing spotlights around the church building as a matter of extreme urgency. We hope to find a good Samaritan before the end of this week.”

The church, in Havelock Square, was built in 1866 and then rebuilt after a fire in 1897. Today it is a spiritual home for a cosmopolitan city centre congregation, including members from a number of African countries.

The cost of repairs required to the church is being assessed but is likely to run into hundreds of thousands of rands. Peasnall said the church members did not have the financial means to carry the cost of repairs alone, and appealed for public support towards the restoration of a building “that belongs to our history and our city”.

“Any help will be appreciated. Security, financial, advice or physical help,” she said.

Financial contributions can be made by deposting money in the  HTC-Emergency Rescue Fund, First National Bank 21031700, Account No. 62048343321. Sandy can be called at 082 705 4383 or emailed at

All the theft incidents have been reported to police  who have requested patrol vehicles to keep a watch for suspicious activity around the church at night.

Even hundred year old copper memorial plaques have been ripped out.


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