Suspects in monks murder in S. Africa still under investigation: Egypt’s Pope Tawadros II

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Mar 2024

Head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, said on Wednesday that the suspects in the murder of three Egyptian monks who were killed last week at the St. Mark and St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery in South Africa are still under investigation.

Tawadros II
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II leading the funeral service of the three Egyptian Coptic monks on Tuesday 19 March, 2024. Photo courtesy of Coptic church spokesman.


In his weekly sermon on Wednesday, Pope Tawadros II added that the details of the murders have not yet been revealed.

The Pope delivered the sermon at the Church of St. Anthony in the Papal Headquarters in Cairo in the absence of the public.

He revealed that prayers were held for the murdered monks at the South African Diocese in the presence of the delegation that was sent there. The delegation included Bishop Paul, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Africa, Bishop Joseph of the Namibia Diocese and its affiliates, and Father Elisha Rizk, who served for a long time in South Africa.

According to the Pope, the delegation offered the funeral prayers accompanied by Bishop Anthony Mark, the Bishop of South Africa, who has been facing health issues for the past two years.

The funeral service led by Pope Tawadros II was held for the three monks at St. Mark Cathedral earlier Tuesday morning in Cairo before it was held at Bani Suef’s St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery, where they were buried. The Pope explained that as monks they must be buried at the monastery.

The three Egyptian monks were killed inside the Saint Mark the Apostle and Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery, affiliated with the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, in Cullinan city in South Africa. 

The victims – Hegumen Takla El-Samuely (deputy of the Coptic Diocese of South Africa), Yostos Ava Markos, and Mina Ava Markos – had stab wounds, according to the police. 

A fourth person was also beaten with an iron rod before escaping to safety. 

The motive behind the attack remains unknown, and the police say nothing valuable was stolen from the monastery. 

The police arrested two men who were charged with murder by a South African court on Thursday.

The first suspect was identified as 37-year-old Egyptian national Saeed Basanda, and the second 47-year-old South African citizen Samuel Avamarkos, the Associated Press reported. 

Pope Tawadros expressed “gratitude to everyone who contributed to healing the wounds,” beginning with the delegation of fathers who travelled to South Africa during a difficult time.

He also thanked the authorities of South Africa for dealing seriously with the incident, noting that the investigation was temporarily halted until a translator was brought in.

Furthermore, the Pope highlighted that the South African ambassador in Egypt visited the Church earlier Wednesday to offer condolences on behalf of the South African government.

“It was an opportunity for us to get to know him and for him to learn about the Coptic Church and its history. We pray that God completes His work in this matter,' the head of the Coptic Church said.

The Pope concluded, "We ask for the prayers of the three monk fathers and may God protect our monasteries and fathers."

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