Man held for 'murder' of US-born nun who cared for South African orphans

(Photo: Margaret Owen)U.S.-born nun Sister Mary Paule Tacke from Idaho who was killed after a violent carjacking in South Africa on June 15, 2014.

People in South Africa and the United States are grieving over the death of an 82-year-old Idaho-born nun after a violent carjacking, and staff members where she worked are traumatized.

Sister Mary Paule Tacke spent more than 60 years in South Africa founding an orphanage and caring for disadvantaged children for decades, inlcuding those afflicted with the HIV virus.

A man accused of murdering Tacke appeared briefly in the Mthatha Magistrate's Court in the Eastern Cape province on Friday, the South African Press Association reported.

The case against 26-year-old Asiphe Ndikinda, 26, was postponed to July 2 for a formal bail application, Police Lieutenant Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said.

The nun was hijacked and kidnapped by two men in Mthatha on Sunday outside the Thembehlie Orphanage which she founded.

Her body, still in her nun's habit, was found floating in a stream near Tyara village in Libode about 60 kilometers (36 miles) from Mthatha the following day.

She was chairwoman of the board of Thembelihle Home which she was visiting at the time of her kidnapping. Staff at the home said children and staff were traumatized by her death, the Daily Dispatch newspaper reported.

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.

"She was our teacher and mother and gave us support in everything we did."

Sister Mary Paule was born Mary Jo Tacke to Jack and Merlin (Untereiner) Tacke on March 17, 1932, in Cottonwood, Idaho, the only girl in a family of five boys, reported.

As a teenager she joined the Sisters of the Precious Blood Order because of their missionary work and in 1949 at the age of 17, she traveled by bus to Princeton, N.J., to begin her life in the convent.

After about two years there she was assigned to South Africa where she began her missionary work at the Mariazell mission near Matatiele.

In 1955 she founded Bethany Place of Safety in Mthatha, a home for abandoned children from newborn to age six. She was its director from 1955 to 2007.

In an obituary on the beloved nun said, "Sister Mary Paule was very quiet and humble about her work.

"However, several have said that she was secretly active during apartheid. Some tell how she literally saved their lives by helping them to escape South Africa during the apartheid years."

She is survived by her brother, Mark Tacke of Cottonwood; and many nieces and nephews.

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