Suspected Murderer of Belgian Priest in South Africa “well known to him”

Belgian Missionary Fr. Joseph Hollander, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) who was ministering in South Africa murdered on January 12, 2020
Credit: Bishop of Klerksdorp Diocese

The young man suspected to have murdered a missionary priest who was engaged in parish ministry in South Africa’s diocese of Klerksdorp last week was well known to the late cleric, has already been arraigned in court over the killing and is set to be presented to the court again “to apply for bail,” ACI Africa has been told.

The 23-year-old man suspected to have murdered Fr. Joseph Hollander on Sunday, January 12 “has been apprehended. He made a brief appearance where he has requested legal assistance,” the Bishop of Klerksdorp diocese, Victor Phalana told ACI Africa Saturday, January 18.

The Bishop described the suspect as “a young man well known to (the late) Fr. (Hollander) and no one suspected him.”

The South African Prelate described the killing of Fr. Hollander, a native of Belgium, a case of break-in “robbery” after the late priest had returned to his house from Sunday Mass because the murderer took away the missionary’s “clothes, an old computer, a cellphone, and tools from his workshop just to sell and buy drugs or alcohol.”

The body of the late cleric was tied up in his house in the parish of Tsogong in Bodibe village within South Africa’s diocese of Klerksdorp, some 200 kilometers west of Johannesburg.

“Let us pray for the soul of our beloved grandpa,” Bishop Phalana has stated referencing the 83-year-old murdered Belgian priest, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI).

“The suspect appeared in court this morning,” Bishop Phalana stated in his January 17 Facebook post and continued with regard to the suspect, “He will appear again on Friday (January 24) for his bail hearing. This will be at the Lichtenburg Magistrates court.”

In a message to ACI Africa, Bishop Phalana stated in reference to the suspect expected to seek bail, “If he gets, then he will be freed and attend his trial from outside.”

“Where is your conscience, taking someone’s life for material things. You killed us,” Bishop Phalana has probed and lamented.

Bemoaning the manner in which Fr. Hollander’s life was cut short, the South African Prelate said, “He did not deserve to be humiliated, tortured and killed like an animal.”

The Bishop continued referencing the late Flemish missionary in his South African diocese, “He was a man of dignity. He was the anointed man of God. He was old and feeble.”

The late missionary cleric “was just doing his work: Evangelization – in the spirit of St Eugene de Mazenod,” Bishop Phalana has stated in reference to the French priest who founded of the 237-year-old OMI religious congregation that commissioned the late Fr. Hollander to South Africa.

A couple of memorial Masses have been celebrated in honor of the late Father, one on Saturday at the Holy Trinity Church and the other Sunday, January 19 at the parish of Tsogong in Bodibe where the Belgian missionary ministered.

As a mark of respect for the fallen missionary, a guard of honor is expected to receive Fr. Hollander’s body in Bodibe Tsogong Tuesday, January 21.

There will be an all-night vigil and divine office and requiem Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, Klerksdorp slated to take place Wednesday, January 22 before leaving for the cemetery “where he (Fr. Hollander) will lie next other great Oblate missionaries who have build this diocese and served us with excellence,” the Bishop of South Africa’s Klerksdorp diocese has stated.

“May perpetual might shine on him,” Bishop Phalana has concluded.


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]