Wallet, keys, money, still with body
THE murder of a respected Catholic nun Mary Paule Tacke, 82, who was kidnapped by armed men on Sunday, has left Mthatha residents reeling.
Her body, still in her nun’s habit, was found floating in a stream near Tyara village in Libode about 60km from Mthatha yesterday.
Two men are being sought for the murder.
On Sunday, police launched a massive search hours after Tacke was hijacked shortly after 2pm in Norwood during a visit to one of her projects, a place of safety for children. Mthatha police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said the body was discovered by a passerby on the way to a local clinic in the village.
The Daily Dispatch’s Mthatha Bureau chief Lulamile Feni, who was on his way to cover a different story in Libode, helped identify the body. Feni said: “The passerby alerted the chief of the area, but no one knew who it was.
“Since I was aware that one of my colleagues was working on a story related to her disappearance, I had a hunch it could be the lady who had been abducted.”
Fatyela said sister Tacke was attacked while driving her car on Sunday. “Her car was spotted in town [on Sunday] and a car chase ensued. It was found near Qokolweni village after it overturned, but she was not inside.”
A 9mm pistol and cellphone were found in Tacke’s car by the police.
Fatyela said they were puzzled about the motive as her wallet, money, house keys and drivers’ licence were found in her pockets.
Her body had no visible wounds and they thought she may have been strangled. “A postmortem will reveal how she died,” he said.
Tacke reportedly stayed at the Glen Avent Convent in Ikhwezi Lokusa in Ikhwezi Township just outside the Mthatha city centre.
She was chairwoman of the board of Thembelihle Home in Norwood, which she was visiting at the time of her kidnapping. Staff at the home said children and staff were traumatised by her death.
Ncediwe Ngwane, Tacke’s deputy on the board described her as a people’s person who loved children. “Her greatest interest was the wellbeing of the children.”
Sister Tacke had supported the home since its inception in 1996.
“She was our teacher and mother and gave us support in everything we did.”
Sister Dionys Ngcobo, from the convent, said they were all shocked and sad. “Our hearts are broken.”
Although she had retired, Tacke served on the convent committee that dealt with social welfare and was working closely with several social welfare institutions including Thembelihle Home.
Tacke was a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood. She came from the US in the 1950s and taught at the Catholic missionary school Mariazell in Matatiele where COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota was her pupil.
Lekota told the Dispatch: “I am absolutely devastated. Why would anyone want to attack someone who was contributing to the upliftment of the country?” Tacke had taught him never to judge people based on the colour of their skin. “She was a strong advocate of African education. She taught me we are humans irrespective of our race, colour or background.”
Arrive Alive Eastern Cape spokesman and philanthropist Tshepo Machaea said her death was a huge loss to the people of Mthatha. “Those cowards did not even respect the fact that she was wearing clothes worn by nuns.”
Mthatha Ratepayers’ Association chairman Graeme Alexander said: “She was a frail lady who couldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt someone who has done so much for the community is disgraceful.”
Roman Catholic priest Winfried Egler was shocked. “We don’t know why this happened.”
Tacke had led a simple life and was dedicated to helping vulnerable children and to fighting drug and child abuse.