South Africa: Second Priest Shot Dead in Just Over a Month

Source: FSSPX News

Fr. Paul Tatu Mothobi

Fr. Paul Tatu Mothobi, member of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ (CSS/Stigmatins) and former Media and Communications Officer of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC), is the latest ecclesiastical murder victim in South Africa.

Fr. Tatu was born in the Archdiocese of Maseru in Lesotho, and he exercised his ministry in the Archdiocese of Pretoria in South Africa. The notice of his death issued by the provincial secretary of the CSS soberly states that Fr. Tatu “passed on to be with the Lord on Saturday, 27th April 2024 after sustaining a gunshot.”

According to reports, Fr. Tatu’s lifeless body with gunshot wounds was found on April 27 in his car on the N1 Road, a national route in South Africa that runs from Cape Town to Beit Bridge, a border town with Zimbabwe, via Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Polokwane.

The Vatican news site reports that Fr. Gianni Piccolboni, 76 years old, CSS missionary, present in the country for more than 30 years and provincial superior, informed the Fides press agency that “the sequence of events is not still well known” but that “Fr. Paul seems of have accidentally witnessed the murder of a woman.”

The cleric explained that the murderer allegedly forced the brother “to get into a car, where he was shot in the back of the head to silence him.” He added: “We pray for him and for the Stigmatine missionaries experiencing such great pain.”

In a statement on Monday, April 29, SACBC members offered their condolences to CSS members and Fr. Tatu's family, and described his killing as “not an isolated incident.”

They recalled the March 13 murder of Fr. William Banda, from Zambia and a member of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society (Kiltegan Fathers), shot dead in the sacristy of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in the South African diocese of Tzaneen.

The SACBC bishops add: “It must be noted that the death of Fr. Paul Tatu is not an isolated incident, but rather a distressing example of the deteriorating state of security and morality in South Africa.”

The murders of Fr. Tatu and Fr. Banda, deplore the members of the SACBC, “occur amid growing concerns about the increasing disregard for the value of life, where people are wantonly killed.”

Born in 1978 in Teyateyaneng (T.Y), a town in the Berea district of Lesotho, Fr. Tatu joined the Stigmatines in 1998. He studied philosophy at St. Francis House of Studies in Pretoria from 1999 to 2000, before leaving for Botswana for the novitiate. He was ordained a priest in 2008. He practiced in Tanzania before coming to South Africa. 

The Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ (in Latin: Congregatio a Sacris Stigmatibus Domini Nostri Jesus Christi) is a clerical congregation of pontifical right. Founded by Gaspard Bertoni and approved by the Holy See in 1855, at the beginning of the 21st century it had a few hundred members, called “Stigmatins,” on four continents.

They dedicate themselves to the organization and preaching of spiritual retreats, and popular missions, as well as catechism, the training of seminary clerics, and finally the education of youth.