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Wave of violence in South Africa: a priest and three orthodox monks murdered

Murder of a priest

On 13 March, in the heart of the city of Johannesburg, the Zambian priest Father William Banda was murdered. He belonged to St Patrick’s Society for Foreign Missions, also known as the Kiltegan Fathers. Father Banda was brutally murdered as he was preparing to celebrate Holy Mass in Tzaneen Cathedral. This was reported by the Fides news agency.

Details of the Crime

According to witnesses gathered at the scene, the murder took place shortly before 8am, while Father Banda was leading the prayer before Mass. An unknown individual, described as a well-dressed African man, entered the church and sat down next to the priest. When Father Banda headed towards the sacristy to prepare for the celebration, the murderer followed him and, once inside, shot the priest in the back of the head. Not content with that, he lashed out with a second shot to the head of the cleric as he lay on the ground.

Ongoing investigation

After committing the heinous crime, witnesses report that the murderer jumped into a car waiting outside the door. The escape was quickly accomplished, casting further shadows on the identity and motives behind this cowardly attack. The authorities are currently engaged in the investigation to identify and capture the perpetrator of this murder.

A Series of Murders

This was not the only act of violence against the religious community in South Africa. Just the day before, on 12 March, three Orthodox monks were murdered in the monastery of St. Mark and St. Bishop Samuel the Confessor, in Cullinan, about 30 km east of Pretoria. The Coptic Orthodox Church identified the victims as Father Takla El-Samouili, Brother Youstos Ava-Markos and Father Mina Ava-Markostre, who were shot dead. This tragic succession of violence against religious figures has aroused national and international outrage and concern.

Building a world where love and understanding prevail over violence and hatred

The killing of Father William Banda and the three Orthodox monks is a sad reminder of the challenges faced by many religious communities around the world. It is essential to ensure the safety of places of worship and their members.  At a time when social cohesion and tolerance are more important than ever, these tragic losses highlight the urgent need for solidarity and respect between different communities to end violence and build a better future for all.


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