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The monks were not identified in this digitally altered photo on the Church’s Facebook page (OSV News/Coptic Orthodox Church Facebook)

Three Egyptian monks of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of South Africa were brutally murdered on Tuesday in their monastery in Cullinan, a small town about 30 kilometres east of the capital, Pretoria. Source: OSV News.

According to a March 13 statement from the Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the three slain was Fr Takla Moussa, assistant bishop and abbot of St Mark and St Samuel the Confessor Monastery. The other two were identified as Frs Minah ava Marcus and Youstos ava Marcus. In what the church described as a criminal attack, an unknown assailant attacked the monks in the early hours of March 12, killing the three, all of whom were found with stab wounds. A fourth monk was injured.

“The Church expresses its deep anguish over the occurrence of such a tragic incident, extends its sincere condolences to the families of the three monks,” the Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement. “Our pain and sadness, no amount (of) words can express, but we know that they rejoice in paradise.”

The motive of the attack is not clear, but it further underlined the current challenge in the country, which has one of the highest rates of violence in the world. Recently, South Africa has grappled with sporadic and lethal xenophobic attacks against African and Asian foreign nationals, including refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants.

News reports yesterday indicated the police had launched an investigation into the incident and had arrested an Egyptian member of the Coptic Church as a suspect in the case.


Three Coptic Orthodox monks victims of horrific murder in their monastery (By Fredrick Nzwili, OSV News)