South African Pastor 'Burned Beyond Recognition' With Hands Tied Behind Back
The body of a South African pastor has been found "burned beyond recognition" with his hands tied behind his back in a small farming town about 50 miles outside of Johannesburg.
The body of 45-year-old Martin Beneke, the senior pastor and founder of the Johannesburg-based Life in Christ Network, was discovered in Magaliesburg on Monday. The Life in Christ Network confirmed the pastor's death in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
"It is with heavy sadness and sorrow that we have to inform everyone that the founder and head pastor of LICN, Pastor Martin, has passed away on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017," the statement reads. "There are still so many questions we have and answers we need but we trust the process. Thank you to each and everyone who are supporting his wife, two daughters and family. We appreciate it."
Police spokesperson Sergeant Mpho More told media that the discovery of Beneke's body was made by a local farmer who noticed smoke as he traveled a gravel road on his farm.
The Roodepoort Record reports that when the farmer went to investigate the smoke, he found Beneke's Nissan pickup truck on fire and a body burned beyond recognition.
Gauteng police announced that Beneke's body was found with his hands tied behind his back and believe that he was kidnapped.
"He was kidnapped and found dead at a farm in Magaliesburg yesterday," Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said in a statement, according to Times Live. "The man's hands were tied behind his back and his body was burnt beyond recognition. He and his car were found by a farmer in the area and his car was burning. The motive is unknown and at the moment no arrests have been made. He was reported missing on Monday this week by his family after he did not come back home that night."
Beneke was last seen on Monday at a gas station on 14th Avenue in Johannesburg with two unknown men, according to the Record.
"My son is now part of statistics — hacked and killed!" Beneke's mother, Elaine, wrote in a Facebook post, according to Times Live.
On Wednesday, the Northcliff Melville Times reported that Beneke's killers are still at-large as police search for a motive and have yet to arrest any suspects in connection with the pastor's murder.
Numerous people have taken to Facebook to voice their sorrow after hearing of Beneke's death and to comment on what kind of man he was.
"RIP Pastor Martin K. Beneke. You will be sadly missed by everyone you have touched and everyone's lives you changed in amazing ways and your inspiration you brought, especially mine, helping me with addiction," Daniel Meissenheimer wrote in a Facebook post. "[T]hanks for changing my life and showing me a new way of life with God by my side. You have left a lagecy [sic] rip forever missed."