French priest killed in South African shantytown

| December 8, 2009

JOHANNESBURG — A French priest who spent 40 years as a missionary in Africa was shot dead during a burglary at his residence in a shantytown outside Johannesburg, police and church officials said on Tuesday.

Louis Blondel, 70, was killed Monday morning in his rectory. Four burglars, including three teenagers had broken in and shot him in the neck as they escaped, police said.

Two computers and a mobile phone were stolen, they added.

He was fourth priest murdered this year, according to the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference.

Blondel came to South Africa in 1987 and lived mainly south of Johannesburg in Soweto and Orange Farm, where he built a church and several community centres.

He moved to Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, a year ago where he helped build a church and a community house in the shantytown.

"They were really, really appreciated there," said Antoine Soubrier of the bishops' conference.

"For Diepsloot, the archbishop of Pretoria could not find anyone to go there because it's seen as a dangerous place," he added.

Blondel had decided to move there instead of returning to France.

South Africa has one of the world's highest crime rates, with an average of 50 people killed every day.

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Category: Church Security

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