Slain nun laid to rest

2015-05-01 06:00

ON Monday hundreds of people, including IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, gathered at the Sacred Heart Home church to bid farewell to slain Ixopo nun, Getrud Tiefenbacher (86), known as Sister Stefani at the convent.

Former pupils from Little Flower, a school Tiefenbacher helped start in Ixopo, said they would have missed the chance to celebrate the life of the person who had shaped their lives.

Michelle Vere (44) a Department of Justice attorney in Durban, said she felt blessed to have known Tiefenbacher.

“When the sister [Gerald Frye, in charge of the convent] told me the funeral was on the Monday [public holiday] I was ecstatic because that meant there was no way I would miss this opportunity to celebrate Sister Stefani’s life,” she said.

Imelda Sutherland (49) said she visited Tiefenbacher on April 1, after last seeing her in 1984 when she completed her matric.

“I’m glad I got the chance to be with her for the last time. We reminisced about when I was a pupil there, had a cup of tea and took a walk in the garden,” said the primary school teacher, who now works in Austerville, south of Durban.

During the service the congregation sang and danced and speakers told of the fond memories they had of her and how she had touched their lives.

Buthelezi said Tiefenbacher’s murder had particularly “touched” him because they were almost the same age.

“She was only a few months younger than I am. I can only imagine how vulnerable she must have been when she was attacked,” he said.

“What happened was an irrational act as Tiefenbacher had not come to the country to find greener pastures, but solely to carry out God’s work,” he said.

“She was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was in a place where she should have been the most safe.”

Bishop Mlungisi Dlungwane, who led the service, called Tiefenbacher’s murder inhumane.

“What kind of animal behaviour is this? These people hide among us and I know that sometimes we are afraid to speak out about such things, but we cannot keep quiet and allow them to continue living in our communities,” he said.

On Tuesday police said three suspects had been arrested.

* “The arrested suspects aged between 25 and 35 are due to appear in the Ixopo Magistrate’s Court tomorrow [Wednesday] facing murder, house robbery and rape charges,” said Major Thulani Zwane in a statement.

The three were found in possession of stolen property, including foreign currency, which was positively identified as belonging to Sister Tiefenbacher, said Zwane

It is alleged that on 18 April Sister Stefani was in her room when she was approached by suspects who allegedly tied her hands with a typewriter cord. Her face was also covered with a towel, causing her to suffocate, he said.

“It is also suspected that the victim was raped before she was killed,” Zwane said.

KZN Commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni commended the task team for their hard work that led to the arrest of the suspects.

“We believe that some of the missing goods will be recovered as the police are still investigating the matter. I also wish to thank members of the community who responded to my call and provided information to the police which aided in the arrest of the suspects. We hope that justice will be served and these thugs are imprisoned for a long time,” she said.

* At the time of going to press a statement had been issued:

“The matter involving the alleged rape and murder of a Roman Catholic nun in an Ixopo convent had been postponed to May 6, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Wednesday. - Supplied

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