|Sister Gertrud Tiefenbacher (not pictured) was found dead in her bedroom|
An 86-year-old nun has been gang-raped and murdered by robbers for a small amount of money in South Africa. Police said Sister Gertrud Tiefenbacher was found dead by another nun at the Sacred Heart Home, in the eastern town of Ixopo.
The Austrian had been killed in her bedroom after being gagged, tied up with a cord from an electric typewriter and suffocated with a towel, the Daily News reported. A close friend, 85-year-old Better Firmstone, told the newspaper that Sister Gertrud taught children at a missionary school and loved her work.
“This really was an act of savagery against a gentle, caring soul,” she added.
Major Thulani Zwane, a spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal police, said the nun was found dead on Sunday morning after a suspected robbery overnight targeting a small amount of foreign currency.
“Rape is also suspected in this matter,” he told The Citizen. “We are following all leads. We are also appealing to the community to come forward with any information that will help us solve this case.”
The Sacred Heart Home opened in 1923 and is described on its website as a community of “many elderly sisters” who teach at an adjoining school and volunteer at a hospital.
It is also a noviciate, where would-be Catholic nuns train before taking their vows.
The murder came as the South African government mobilised soldiers to keep the peace in areas hit by a spate of violent attacks targeting immigrants.
Troops are being sent to support police in Durban, where the violence against foreigners began earlier this month, before spreading to Johannesburg and other cities.
A Zimbabwean couple were shot in the Alexandra township on Monday, near where a Mozambican man was stabbed to death by four South African men over the weekend. Immigrants from Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and other African states have mainly been affected, sparking protests around South Africa and an exodus of foreign nationals from the country.