AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Funeral of the murdered Stigmatine missionary on May 11th: Confrere provides details of the crime

Friday, 3 May 2024 missionaries killed  


Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "The funeral of Father Paul Tatu Mothobi will take place on May 11th at our mission in Pretoria," confirms Father Gianni Piccolboni to Fides on the death of the missionary from Lesotho of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was murdered on April 27 in South Africa (see Fides, 30/4/2024).
Father Piccolboni also provides further information about the circumstances under which his brother was murdered. "Father Paul had visited the sister of a diocesan priest in Pretoria, at his request. The woman was ill and the priest, a friend of Father Paul, had asked him if he could visit her to check on her health conditions", he reports. "When he arrived at the woman's house who knew Father Paul because they both worked for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Southern Africa (SACBC), we don't know what happened next." "What is certain is that after murdering the woman, the murderers must have forced Father Paul into his car and drove several kilometers away from the crime scene, then made him stop on the side of the road and shot him in the back of the head.
It is suspected that "There were at least two murderers, because the one who killed him must necessarily have gotten into another vehicle, driven by an accomplice, to drive away from the scene of the second murder," said Fr. Piccolboni. According to Father Piccolboni, who lived in South Africa for 30 years and was himself the victim of a street robbery there, "it is difficult to imagine that the motive for the murder of Father Paul was robbery. Nothing was stolen from our brother, not even that car in which his body was found. The missionary adds that "the two murders were not initially linked, also because no one had reported Father Paul missing. In fact, in our mission, besides him, there were two other confreres who were abroad at the time. It was the police who discovered his body along the road from Cape Town via Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Polokwane to Beit Bridge, a border town with Zimbabwe." "There is another reason why the two murders were not initially linked: They occurred in two different jurisdictions. Two different police units investigated one case and the other. Only after a few days were the facts connected, also thanks to the testimony of the brother of the first victim," he concludes. A crime that is just as mysterious as that of Father William Banda of the St. Patrick's Society for Foreign Missions (Kiltegan Fathers), who was shot dead on the morning of March 13th as he prepared to celebrate Holy Mass in the Tzaneen Cathedral (see Fides, 14/3/2024). Like Father Paul Tatu, Father Banda also belonged to a religious community and originally came from another country (in his case Zambia). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 3/5/2024)