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South Africa: Austrian missionary killed

Matatiele

Matatiele

Fr Ernst Plöchl, a 78 year-old Austrian missionary from the Congregation of Mariannhill Missionaries, was killed in the South African Cape Province on Sunday.

Fr. Ploechl, who was a missionary in South Africa for over 40 years, was found dead
on the morning of May 31, in the remote missionary station of Maria Zell, Mariannhill Missionaries spokesman Andreas Rohring told the Austrian agency APA.

The spokesman said the exact circumstances of the crime are yet unknown, as the missionary station has no telephone services. Initially, local authorities confirmed that the missionary was killed by gun shot wounds, then they said it was by strangulation.

Fr Ploechl ran a school with 400 students in Matatiele, a city in the south of the country.

Fr Ploechl was born in Neumarkt im Mühlkreis, in the Austrian district of Freistadt, where he had strong ties and was much admired for his commitment to the poor. His death has caused deep grief in Austria. A Mass will be said for his soul on June 5 in Neumarkt im Mühlkreis. Fr Ploechl is scheduled to be buried in his hometown. He is the third Catholic priest to be killed in South Africa this year.

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of criminal violence in the world: an average of 50 people are killed every day.

Source: Fides