PRIEST'S STABBING MURDER IS LINKED TO DRUG DEALERS; Cleric friend says killers wanted to silence 'champion of the poor'.Byline: NIALL MOONAN
A GRIEVING grieving Mourning, see there friend of Fr Declan Collins told yesterday how he believed the murdered priest was the victim of drug gangs.
Fr Canice Dooley said Fr Collins opened the door to his attackers before being knifed to death in his home near Johannesburg, South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. .
Police confirmed yesterday that the priest had been stabbed in the throat and the chest.
Fr Dooley added: "It may be that these drug gangs were trying to silence him. It may be that he was a threat. It was a brutal murder. It would appear that after mass he was in the house on his own.
"It was a rather lonely mission. Then they bashed his head with a brick and knifed him."
As police began door-to-door inquiries, they said his stolen wallet had contained less that EUR EUR
In currencies, this is the abbreviation for the Euro.
The currency market, also known as the Foreign Exchange market, is the largest financial market in the world, with a daily average volume of over US $1 trillion. 30, although it was empty apart from credit cards when returned by locals.
Police spokeswoman Melanie Brits said: "This was a very violent murder. We are still investigating but we have made no arrests yet." Fr Dooley, who has spent 40 years in South Africa, five of those in Johannesburg, said that Fr Collins's parish was rife with gangs.
He added: "It could be gang related because the area in which he has been working is full of gangs. It could have been an initiation into one of the gangs.
"He was very involved in work for the poor, those who had been discriminated against and he was a great advocate for preaching against drugs. Drugs are a big income for these gangs.
"Priests are very vulnerable. A colleague said 10 out of his 12 priests in eastern Johannesburg have been attacked already."
Fr Dooley was himself attacked in his house and a gun put in his mouth.
Fr Collins was a member of the Salesian Order and yesterday its representative in Dublin, Fr Michael Smyth Michael Smyth is a South Australian newsreader with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation whose work has included features on Stateline. He reads the weekend editions of ABC News and also fills in on weekdays. paid tribute to his dead colleague.
He said: "It's a big shock. W`e've lost someone who was very committed to working with disadvantaged young people.
"He was the champion of the underdog."
Last night one Cape Town Cape Town or Capetown, city (1991 pop. 854,616), legislative capital of South Africa and capital of Western Cape, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. It was the capital of Cape Province before that province's subdivision in 1994. youth spoke emotionally about the impact Fr Collins had on Cape Town. Vuyisile Sitsha, 26, choked back tears as he explained how the priest encouraged him to stay in school.
He said: "At the age of 14, myself and some friends came to the city centre after school trying to earn money, whichever way I could, usually as a car guard.
"Fr Collins taught me there was an alternative and he could help me improve my life."
Meanwhile, it emerged last night that Fr Collins died just hours before he was due to be made parish priest of his adopted district. Fr Collins, 50, a native of Drogheda, Co Louth, had spent years helping street children in his parish.
He had previously spoken to friends about being in constant fear of his life.
Fr Collins' brother and sister are to travel to Johannesburg to bring home his remains.
They are expected to arrive tomorrow and a funeral service funeral service n → misa de cuerpo presente
funeral service n → service m funèbre
funeral service funeral n will take place in Fr Collins's parish of Ennerdale on Thursday.
It is understood his remains will then be flown to Ireland where burial will take place in the Collins family grave.
LIVING IN FEAR: Fr Declan Collins told friends he was concerned for his safety in Johannesburg