A man accused of removing a “sacred” statue of St. Mary from inside the E.F.K.S church at Si’ufaga damaging it appeared in the District Court yesterday.
Tavita Sa’u from Si’ufaga, Falelatai, did not enter a plea when he appeared before Judge Talasa Lumepa Atoa Saaga.
According to the Police Summary of facts, Sa’u is charged with burglary and willful damage.
Due to the seriousness of the charges, Judge Saaga referred the matter to the Supreme Court.
“Tavita your case is being adjourned to the 13th of February,” said Judge Sa’aga.
“This matter will be called for mention in the Supreme Court because according to the police reports, it’s a serious offence."
“So you are to be in custody to await when the matter is called again for mention next week Monday.”
Sa’u appeared unemotional when he fronted the Judge.
The man is accused of removing the statue of Mary, which has been at the centre of a controversy between Reverend Opapo Soanai of the Si’ufaga Church and the Elders Committee of the E.F.K.S Church.
The statue of Mary – and that of Jesus Christ - led to the decision by the church’s mother body to strip Reverend Soanai of his pastoral position.
At the time when the statue was removed, Rev. Opapo speculated that the removal of the statue was not a one-man job given its size and weight.
A source told the Samoa Observer Sa’u was drunk when he decided to remove the statue.
“Members of the church were looking for the statue and they found it at Tavita’s home. She was broken. The statue’s arms were missing.”
Last month, Rev Soana’i, the father of a woman who claims to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering, said he been stripped off his pastoral by the Elders Committee.
Rev. Soana’i protested his innocence saying he has done nothing wrong.
“There is no clause of the Church Constitution that I have violated. I’ve been mistreated for something I’m not sure what it is.”
Told that perhaps the leadership of the church is unhappy about the emphasis on the statues of Mary and Jesus placed in their church since his daughter started to receive the messages, Rev. Soana’i said that could possibly be the case.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t committed adultery, I haven’t used any of the church’s money and I haven’t been caught drunk."
“In the Church Constitution, there is nothing in there against statues of Mary and Jesus. If you look at all the churches, there are images of Jesus and Mary everywhere. Those are statues too.”
Rev. Soana’i added that he did not acquire the statues himself.
“See, I didn’t get those statues myself. They were brought over as a present and our church membership are fearful to reject it because they are of Jesus and Mary. If it was of anything else, then they might’ve considered rejecting it.”
There is a history to the statues.
“When the statues were brought over, Toa received a message which said “if anyone rejects them, they will suffer forever… So what we are saying is that if they want to remove it, they can come and do it themselves but we can’t because we received the translated message in Hebrew."
“Our congregation will not stop anyone who wants to remove them but we are fearful because we are aware of what the translation of the message from the Hebrew language said.”