Friday June 3, 2017, the corpse of the Bishop of Bafia was found at the Sanaga river after 3 days of searching following his disappearance and a mysterious note indicating he was in the waters. The state has declared investigations have opened into the case. The gendarmerie and the police are all probing into the Bishop’s unusual death which has left everyone shocked and the faithful disheartened.
As the story unfolded, the Bishop’s vehicle was found on the bridge of the river sanaga at Ebebda some 80 kms from Yaounde, packed at the side. A note in his handwriting on the car seat read “ Je suis dans l’eau” meaning he was in the river. Immediately interpreted by those who found it, he had committed suicide. The car with registration number CE 9503V was found at about midday, hours after prelate of the Bafia parish noticed his dissappearance and were alarmed. Their worries worsened with the announcement of the unfoldinds at the Sanaga bridge.
The Bishop of Douala and President of the national episcopal conference, His lordship Samuel Kleda issued a communique announcing Bishop Bala’s disappearance on Wednesday May 31. The same communique said his car was found at the bridge and the search for his corps was on.
The Senior divisional officer for Mbam and Inoubou Maurice Tchoffo was joined by the Governor of the centre region and other administrative and religious authorities at the Sanaga bridge after being alerted by the parish priest of Mbalamba in the neighbourhood.
The Rescue team from the Fire briggade and the police all went searching in the waters for the corps. After 3 days of futile search, a Malian fisherman found the corps in the river being dragged along by the waters to Monatele. He reported to the rescue team which finally drew the body out of the waters at midday that Friday.
The corps was identified and taken to the Yaounde General hospital mortuary. An autopsy awaited, the police and Gendarmerie have opened investigations while the court of Bafia is handling the case.
The aggrieved christians of the Bafia diocese are in tears and prayers for the repose of the soul of their Bishop. Mgr Jean Marie Benoit Bala was seen for the last time at about 11pm on Tuesday leaving his home alone for an unknown destination. The next thing, his car was found, and later his corps. The ehtire catholic church is in shock and disbelief about the circumstances of his death. Testimonies tell of a worried and tired Bishop the days leading to his death.
It is believed the Bishop was assasinated, but too early to conclude pending the autopsy and ongoing investigations.