South African Bishops saddened by the killing of yet another priest: Fr Paul Tatu - Vatican News (2024)

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) says they are saddened by the tragic death of a Stigmatine priest Fr Paul Tatu of the Archdiocese of Pretoria.

F Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.

Fr. Paul Tatu Mothobi, a former media and communications officer with the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), based in Pretoria, was shot dead last Saturday, 27 April, by unknown assailants.

The circ*mstances surrounding the shooting incident remain unclear. Fr Tatu’s lifeless body was found in his car, with gunshot wounds on the N1 Road. The N1 is a national route in South Africa that runs from Cape Town through Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Polokwane to Beit Bridge on the border with Zimbabwe.

Profound sadness

Not too long ago, another priest of Zambian origin, Father William Banda, a member of the St. Patrick’s Society (Kiltegan Fathers), was shot dead last month on 13 March in South Africa’s Diocese of Tzaneen. He had been about to celebrate morning Mass in the Cathedral parish.

Expressing his condolences to the family and religious congregation of Fr. Paul Tatu, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, the SACBC President, spoke of the Bishop’s profound sadness at the tragic news.

“The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has just heard of the tragic news of the demise of one of our priests based in Pretoria, Fr. Paul Tatu, through a gunshot. Fr. Tatu worked for several years as the SACBC media and communications officer with dedication; we are saddened by his tragic death. We extend our condolences to the Stigmatine congregation, to which he belonged and to his family,” said Bishop Sipuka.

Life belongs to God

In a statement seen by Vatican News, the Provincial Superior and Council of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of our Lorde Jesus Christ (Stigmatines) confirmed the horrific death. They said that funeral arrangements would be communicated soon.

The Bishops of South Africa have decried the deteriorating security situation in the country and the total disregard for life exhibited by some members of society.

“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. Fr. Tatu’s death occurred soon after another young priest, Fr. William Banda, was shot in cold blood and died soon after in Tzaneen. The murder of these priests occurs amid growing concerns about the increasing disregard for the value of life, where people are wantonly killed,” said the SACBC President.

Bishop Sipuka has appealed to South African authorities to protect citizens.

“On behalf of the Bishops, I appeal to all people responsible for these murders to refrain from thinking that they can do what they like with people’s lives. Life belongs to God, and no one has a right to take it as one pleases … Mr President and Police minister, there is a growing impression among South Africans that criminals are freely murdering the citizens with no fear of consequences,” the South African prelate said.

The life and times

Fr. Paul Tatu Mothobi was born in Lesotho in 1979. In 1998, he joined the Congregation of Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Between 1999 and 2000, he did his philosophical studies at St Francis House of Studies in Pretoria. The following year, he moved to Botswana for formation at the Stigmatine Novitiate.

Having completed this stage of priestly formation, Fr Tatu took a year off from his congregation to live with miners in South Africa’s Free State. During this period, he accompanied miners and taught them mining theory, setting theory, English, and other subjects. A year later, returning to his priestly formation and theological studies, he joined the St John Vianney Seminary, Pretoria, under the Stigmatines. He was ordained a priest in 2008.

Fr Tatu would later be sent to Tanzania as a missionary by the Stigmatines. During this time, he also studied media and communications at Tanzania’s St Augustine Catholic University in Mwanza.

As a contributor to Vatican Radio’s Africa Service, Fr Tatu’s last article was published on the Vatican News' website three weeks ago:

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South African Bishops saddened by the killing of yet another priest: Fr Paul Tatu - Vatican News (2024)
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