AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Zambian missionary murdered in South Africa

Thursday, 14 March 2024 missionaries killed  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - A priest of Zambian origin was shot dead yesterday, March 13, in South Africa. Father William Banda of the St. Patrick's Society for Foreign Missions (Kiltegan Fathers) was shot dead as he prepared to celebrate Holy Mass at Tzaneen Cathedral. According to testimony, Father Banda was leading the prayer that precedes the 8 o'clock mass on the morning of March 13. The faithful present saw an unknown, very well-dressed African man enter the church, walk up to the priest and sit next to him. After praying the rosary, Father Banda went to the sacristy to prepare to celebrate morning mass. The stranger accompanied the priest into the sacristy. As the priest tried to enter, the murderer pulled a gun from his pocket and shot Father Band in the back of the head. The murderer made his way towards the exit of the church, but when he reached the threshold, he turned around, approached the priest's body and fired a second shot in the head.
Once he left the church, witnesses report that the murderer jumped into a car that was waiting for him, and then fled at full speed. The murder of the Catholic priest follows that of three Orthodox monks the day before, March 12, in the monastery of St. Mark and St. Bishop Samuel the Confessor, in Cullinan, about 30 km east of Pretoria. In a statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church said the monks shot were diocesan vicar Father Takla El-Samouili, as well as Father Youstos Ava-Markos and Father Mina Ava-Markostre. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 14/3/2024)