Priest Murdered

2009-01-21 00:00

AN 83-YEAR-OLD Traditional Catholic priest of the Chapel of our Lady and St Michael in Bulwer Street was found murdered in his home which is part of the chapel premises.

Police discovered the body of Father Eldred Leslie just before 7.00pm last night after being alerted by Leslie’s nephew, Kenny, who lives nearby.

Kenny Leslie told The Witness yesterday he had gone to his uncle’s house to check on him as a parishioner had been unsuccessfully trying to get hold of him .

“This parishioner told me that they had been trying to phone Father Leslie but could not get hold of him. As I have the keys [to the house] I went in. All seemed fine from the outside as the gates were locked, as is normally the case. However I became suspicious when I saw that his backdoor was not locked,” Kenny told The Witness outside the house where police were still busy combing the murder scene for evidence.

According to Kenny, his uncle always kept the doors and gates locked. “When I got inside I noticed that the doorknob on his bedroom door, which was closed, had blood all over it,” he said.

Realising something was wrong Kenny phoned the police without entering the bedroom.

“The police responded and as they entered they found the body of Father Leslie slumped on the floor of his bedroom. He had sustained severe head wounds believed to have been caused by a sharp instrument,” said police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram.

A source close to the investigation said Leslie had been stabbed in the neck behind the ear and in the head. The motive for the murder was still unknown yesterday and police said that no property had been taken from the house.

Father Leslie lived alone in the house, police added.

According to Kenny, this was not the first time that his uncle had fallen victim to crime since arriving in the area about ten years ago. “Since arriving here he has been robbed and had his house broken into about 15 times and that’s a conservative figure” he said.

Despite all this Father Leslie continued to do good in the area. He was well known in the area especially for his work with street children and the poor. “He gave street children and destitute people food and even paid school fees for some of the children,” Kenny said.

Residents of Bulwer and adjacent streets, who gathered outside Father Leslie’s house, expressed anger and shock at the brutal murder of the man they described as caring. “We, the residents of this area, are living in fear. There have been a spate of crimes in this area. We can only hope the police arrest whoever is responsible for this deed,” said one resident who did not want to be named.

One of the parishioners, Terence Talbot, described the priest as kind and caring. “He was very committed to the Traditional Catholic Church, what has happened here is a tragedy,” said Talbot.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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