Saturday, May 30, 2009

LDS Apostle Russell M. Nelson And Party Attacked By Home Invaders In Maputo, Mozambique; No Serious Injuries Other Than A Broken Arm

Update June 1st: Maputo Mission President Blair Packard gives a more complete statement on this incident. Updated post HERE.

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Twelve, along with his wife, were attacked and robbed by home invaders on Friday May 29th, 2009 while on special assignment to Maputo, Mozambique. Stories published by KSL Channel 5, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, and KSTU Channel 13 (with video). KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

Elder and Sister Nelson were dining at the home of Mozambique Maputo Mission president Blair Packard and his wife Precinda, or "Cindy", along with Elder William and Shanna Parmley of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency, when armed assailants entered the home and robbed them. Although information is still sketchy, it is understood that Sister Packard's arm was broken. In addition, she and others suffered some superficial injuries, mainly cuts and bruises. Items taken by the assailants have not yet been disclosed, pending further investigation by Maputo police. Elder and Sister Nelson will continue their assignment over the weekend as planned.

Since this story first broke, one of Nelson's daughters, Brenda Miles of Bountiful, UT, said Nelson's family has been notified that he is OK. Miles said Saturday evening she hadn't had a chance to speak with her father about the robbery. Another daughter, Rosalie Ringwood of Salt Lake City, said her father passed a message through the secretary to his family asking them "not to worry."

Former missionaries to Mozambique told the Deseret News that they were warned to always be cautious and told about the dangers of life in that African nation. The LDS Church was legally recognized in Mozambique, a southeastern Africa nation, in 1996, with the first branch created in the capital city of Maputo. Missionaries arrived in 1999. The Mozambique Maputo Mission was created on January 1st, 2005, the church's 339th mission. Official LDS statistics for the country show no stakes, 18 branches, and a membership total of 4,851.

Those in the Bloggernacle picking up the story include Messenger and Advocate and By Common Consent.

A little more background on the home invasion problem in southern Africa is appropriate. Armed home invasions are a routine fact of life in southern Africa, and in particular, South Africa. While most frequently it is black gangs invading white households, victims of all races have been recorded. The motivation is both racial and economic; there is a large gap between rich and poor, and many blacks have not gotten over colonialism and apartheid. Thus it is unlikely that Elder Nelson's party was targeted for religious reasons, and Mormons should not necessarily fear a mission call to Africa. An industry journal article HERE provides some more background. The South Africa Sucks blog also provides some valuable insight, although the language may be occasionally rough, and it's from the perspective of South African whites who have found it difficult to reconcile themselves to the abrupt transition to black majority rule in 1994 and the serious problems ensuing in the wake of such an abrupt transition.

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