Catholic Priest Shot Dead in Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tzaneen Diocese, South Africa

Late Fr. William Banda. Credit: Diocese of Polokwane

A member of the St. Patrick’s Missionary Society (Kiltegan Fathers) serving in the Catholic Diocese of Tzaneen in South Africa was shot dead while preparing to celebrate Holy Mass the morning of Wednesday, March 13. 

Fr. William Banda was reportedly murdered by a “well-dressed man” in the sacristy of the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tzaneen Diocese.

According to South Africa’s Far North Bulletin, Fr. Banda was in the Church praying when his killer walked in and sat next to him before accompanying the Religious missionary Priest to the sacristy where he murdered him.

“Fr. Banda was conducting morning prayers. Parishioners were entering the Church in anticipation of the morning Mass ... Some of the regulars had already entered the building when one of them noticed a stranger they had never seen before; he was apparently a very well-dressed African man they had never seen before, who walked straight to Fr Banda and sat next to him,” Far North Bulletin reported.

A reporter of the news agency says, “When Fr. Banda had completed his morning prayer, he stood up to go and ready himself at the sacristy for the morning Mass ... The man also got up and escorted Fr. Banda by the elbow to the sacristy.”


“As they entered the sacristy, the gunman allegedly withdrew his firearm from his waist and shot Fr. Banda in the neck, close to the jawline. He then turned and walked out. As he approached the door, the gunman turned around and then walked back and shot Fr. Banda in the head,” Far North Bulletin has reported, adding that the gunman then ran into an awaiting vehicle that sped off.

Police officers have reportedly been at the crime scene and investigations into the murder of Fr. Banda, a native of Zambia, are currently underway.

Meanwhile, the Coptic Orthodox Church has announced the killing of three Monks following a Tuesday, March 12 attack on the Coptic Monastery of St. Mark and St. Bishop Samuel the Confessor in Cullinan, South Africa, some 30 kms East of Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital.

In an official statement dated March 12, the Coptic Orthodox church says the attack resulted in the martyrdom of Fr. Takla El-Samouili, the Diocesan Vicar; Fr. Youstos Ava-Markos; and Fr. Mina Ava-Markosthree.

Citing South Africa’s police spokesperson,  Col. Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi, a Reuters’ March 12 report indicates that all three Egyptian Monks were found with stab wounds, while a fourth one, who survived, alleged that he was hit by an iron rod before fleeing and hiding.

More in Africa

The BBC has reported that an Egyptian member of the Coptic Orthodox Church has been arrested as a possible suspect. 

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