Neighbours help nab suspected priest killers

| December 10, 2009

Early on Monday morning, French-Canadian priest Fr Guido Bourgeois blocked the kitchen door with his fridge and yelled out of the window to his neighbours: "Thuso! Thuso!" – "Help!" in Sotho.

In the adjacent bedroom, Bourgeois's friend and colleague, French priest Fr Louis Blondel, lay dead in a pool of blood. He had been shot in the chest.

Bourgeois told The Times that the neighbours began to whistle, alerting their community that thieves were on the loose.

He said that after the murder the robbers, described as three young boys and a tall man, ran off with two computers and Bourgeois's cellphone.

The police arrested five youths between the ages of 14 and 18 in connection with Blondel's murder after receiving a tip-off from a Diepsloot resident.

A woman, alleged to be in possession of Bourgeois's cellphone, was arrested for possessing stolen property.

Bourgeois said it was a "very good sign" that people wanted to fight crime in the area.

"It's a sign that they support us," he said.

Catholic priests working at the church in Diepsloot have a good relationship with their neighbours, one of whom they recently baptised.

Bourgeois said he shares the spinach and cabbage he grows in his vegetable garden with the neighbours, who helped provide him with electricity when he moved into the new church building.

The church and its parishioners were due to celebrate the church's first anniversary on December 16, but instead they will be mourning the death of one of their priests, who was described by parishioners as a "very, very good man".

Blondel's funeral will be at 11am on Saturday at the church, after a vigil on Friday night.

The suspects will appear in the Atteridgeville Magistrate's Court "soon", said a police spokesman, Director Govindsamy Mariemuthoo.

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Category: Church Security

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