The incident took place shortly after 5 am at the St Martin de Porres RC Church compound in Gonzales, near a dormitory where Fr Harvey — who is on sabbatical — had over-nighted to prepare for a seminary at Mt St Benedict. After being robbed, the priest was hottied and gagged.
For close to half an hour, the outspoken priest who is known for his decades of working with at-risk youths struggled to free himself while silently praying to the Almighty to get through the ordeal.
The drama unfolded when Fr Harvey was leaving the quarters when he was accosted by a gunman.
A stunned Fr Harvey was escorted back into the living quarters of the church by the gunman who was joined by two accomplices, all armed. The bandits ransacked the presbytery.
At one point, Fr Harvey later told police, one of the gunmen became agitated and said to him, “You is a priest, you must have money.” The gunmen threatened to kill Fr Harvey. It was reported that when one of the bandits asked Fr Harvey if he was kidnapped, would Archbishop Joseph Harris pay a $50,000 ransom? The distressed priest answered, ‘no.’ The priest was robbed of $1,000, a watch given to him as a gift and a cell phone. The bandits then used tie-straps to hog-tie Fr Harvey while they covered his mouth with duct tape. The bandits moved to the church where they forced open a door. The House of God was also ransacked but when nothing of value was found, the three ran out of the church and escaped.
Fr Harvey later told police he began to flex his bound hands in such a way that he was eventually able to free them from the straps.
He then alerted nearby residents who alerted the police. The shaken priest would later tell shocked parishioners, “I now know how a pig feels when it is tied up.” Fr Harvey said nowhere is safe in this country and not even a man of the cloth is safe. He feels the bandits knew who he was when they carried out the robbery. Fr Harvey refused to be taken for medical treatment telling police he was alright although a bit shaken up. He later went to TSTT to deactivate the sim card in his stolen cellphone.
Yesterday, the Catholic Media Services Limited (Camsel) issued a press release on the robbery.
“Police are currently investigating a report in which Roman Catholic priest Fr Harvey was robbed at gunpoint by three men. The incident took place outside the St Martin’s RC Church, Gonzales early Monday morning.
“Fr Harvey was reported to have spent the night at the church to prepare for a seminar at the Seminary of St John Vianney on the Uganda Matters at Mt St Benedict.
The bandits tied up Fr Harvey, ransacked the presbytery and took a $1,000, a mobile phone and other items from the church before making their escape. The assailants also threatened to kill the priest,” the release stated. Yesterday, Monsignor Christian Pereira said he was deeply saddened over the incident and said thanked God that Fr Harvey was unharmed. “The reality of crime is coming home to all of us and we are all saddened to see how far it has gone where criminals have no regard for a man of God. We trust and pray that these persons will find some mercy from God,” Msgr Pereira said.