Priest found in pool of blood, court hears

2012-02-20 20:01

Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday heard how a pioneering Catholic priest died after he was shot during a robbery at his presbytery in Diepsloot two years ago.

Four young Diepsloot men, Kgaugelo Manzini, Thembalethu Sindane, Freddy Mahlangu and Jabu Ndebele, pleaded not guilty to the December 7 2009 murder of 70-year-old Father Louis Blondel.

They also denied robbing Blondel and fellow priest Father Guido Bourgeois of a computer, cellphone, watch and R50, and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

A fifth accused, 20-year-old Nelson Malope, was in September last year sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to the charges.

Samuel Thobane, who lived at the presbytery in 2009, testified he had been asleep when the sound of a gunshot woke him in the early hours of December 7.

He heard people talking outside and saw three men running away. He heard Bourgeois screaming in the kitchen and was on his way to help him when he saw blood on the floor in the corridor.

He went to Blondel's room and found him in a pool of blood at the door of his room.

Bourgeois had meanwhile pushed a fridge in front of the kitchen door and only opened the door when Thobane assured him the attackers had run away.

A Diepsloot housewife, Yoliswa Yeyani, testified she was doing her washing on the afternoon of December 7 when Sindane arrived and offered her a cellphone for R100.

She paid Sindane R60 for it.

Sindane's lawyer said he would admit selling the phone to Yeyani, but would testify the phone belonged to his friends and that he had been promised R10 if he could find a buyer for it.

Blondel, who was born in France, moved to South Africa in 1987 after spending his early years as a missionary in Tanzania.

At one stage he lived in Soweto and taught philosophy at St Peter's seminary in Hammanskraal. He also did pioneering work in the Orange Farm area before he moved to Diepsloot in 2008, where he built a church and a community house.

He was a member of Missionaries of Africa, a society of Catholic missionaries dedicated to serving Africans.

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