Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Current Social Unrest: Statement from the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum

This statement was issued on 14 July 2010

Statement from the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum on Current Social Unrest

The Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum (WCRLF), under the chairmanship of the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, convened a special Consultative Forum on 13 July 2010, following its annual general meeting, to consider current incidents of social unrest against the background of the widespread positive atmosphere experienced throughout the 2010 World Cup.

There can be no doubt that South Africans are at heart an Ubuntu people. The experience of the last month has shown the genuine warm hospitality and generous spirit with which we have welcomed visitors from around the world to our country and our continent.

We therefore have been hearing with dismay the reports of threats against fellow Africans living among us with whom we have been standing shoulder to shoulder in our support of the World Cup. We roundly condemn the violence which is now being directed towards them, and the opportunist criminal acts that are taking advantage of the fears and tensions that are being raised. We particularly denounce the way that criminals often use children to carry out their purposes, so as to avoid the direct legal consequences of their malicious intentions.

We therefore urge the SAPS, who have done such a marvellous job in upholding law and order during the Tournament, to work with local communities in isolating those who are responsible and bringing them to full justice. In the same way, we call on other government departments, who offered such a first class service to our World Cup visitors, to provide the same level of treatment to all foreign visitors, workers and residents. We seek this especially for those who are being traumatised and violated by the current threats and acts of social unrest. We trust that stories of maltreatment and poor service from government officials will become entirely a thing of the past.

As leaders of the faith sector of the Western Cape, we have had the privilege and pleasure of working together over many years to promote better inter-religious understanding, and to foster peace and harmony within and among our communities – welcoming all who live among us, whatever their background, their nationality, their creed. We therefore strongly urge all people of faith not only to stand up and speak out for the well-being of all who live within the Western Cape, without distinction, and to monitor and swiftly report any incidents or threats of violence to the police.

Where, tragically, violence does occur, we call on all religious communities to render humanitarian services. We underline our insistence that this should be unconditionally given, regardless of the faith of those assisted, and without any expectation of religious or other commitments being made in response to the help received.

Finally, we affirm our readiness at all times to respond to humanitarian needs, wherever they present themselves, and note the ongoing assistance and development programmes that so many of us run on an ongoing basis within the neediest communities of the Western Cape. Yet bearing in mind the particular needs of the present time, we announce that the WCRLF has today established a Faith Sector Task Team which will monitor developments, and coordinate appropriate responses, as necessary.

Issued on 14 July 2010 by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and the WCRLF. For further information contact Elizabeth Petersen, Consultant, WCRLF, Tel: 021 462 2277; Cell: 082 4755116; Email: wcrlf@iafrica.com

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