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Two men accused of murdering three Egyptian Coptic monks appear in a South African court

Johannesburg, South Africa

Two men accused of fatally stabbing three Egyptian monks belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church this week appeared in a South African court Thursday and will remain in custody until their next court appearance.

Saeed Basanda, dressed in a blue T-shirt and with a white bandage wrapped around his left hand, has been identified as a 37 -year-old Egyptian national.

His co-accused, Samuel Avamarkos, is identified in the charge sheet as a 47 year-old South African citizen.

Members of the Saint Mark the Apostle and Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery sit at the magistrate court in Cullinan, a town east of Pretoria, South Africa, on Thursday, 14th March, 2024. Two suspects appeared at the court for the murder of three Egyptian monks belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church at a monastery in South Africa. PICTURE: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe.

They both registered their addresses as the same plot in the town of Cullinan, east of the capital, Pretoria, where the murders took place.

The case has been postponed to 27 March for the two to get legal representation and an Arabic translator that they have requested.

The two were arrested after the monks were killed Tuesday at the Saint Mark the Apostle and Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Cullinan, where a fourth person was also beaten with an iron rod before escaping to safety, according to police.

Members of the church, wearing black robes, were in the courthouse gallery and sat quietly as the brief proceedings took place.

According to the police, nothing was stolen during the attack and the motive remains unknown.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has its headquarters in Egypt and dioceses in several countries. It is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world and has been the target of deadly attacks by Islamic militants in Egypt and elsewhere.

However, such deadly attacks on churches and places of worship are rare in South Africa.

The Coptic Orthodox Church named the monks killed as Monk Hegumen Takla el-Samuely, Monk Yostos ava Markos and Monk Mina ava Markos. All three were Egyptian nationals.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of South Africa said that el-Samuely was the deputy of the Coptic diocese of South Africa.


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