A priest (83) originally from Flanders was found murdered in his home on church property in Bodibe, a town east of Johannesburg in South Africa, on Monday morning, South African media reports.
The lifeless body of the 83-year-old man was discovered by a community member who had a previously arranged an appointment with the priest.
Found with both his hands and feet tied up and a cord around his neck, the priest was believed to be the victim of an armed robbery, suspected to have taken place shortly after the priest arrived back to his home on Sunday, HLN explains.
The culprit and motivation behind the murder are being investigated, local police have confirmed, adding that a post-mortem will be carried out to determine the specific cause of death.
“We are all deeply affected by what happened,” said Daniël Coryn, a representative of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, from Blanden, near Leuven. “It is a terrible death for someone who has dedicated his entire life to his mission,” Coryn continued.
The diocese to which the priest belonged, the Catholic Diocese of Klerksdorp, has been hit hard by the death of the 83-year-old, according to Bishop Victor Phalana of Klerksdorp. “Full of enthusiasm, life and dedication,” a fluent speaker of Afrikaans, Tswana, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa and Botswana, “he was a part of people’s lives,” Phalana added.
On Tuesday, the priest’s body was taken to Bodibe church where a mourning service was held. The funeral service will take place next Wednesday 22 January in Christ the Saviour Cathedral of Klerksdorp.
The 83-year-old priest had been doing missionary work in South Africa for no less than 55 years.
The Brussels Times