Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Challenges of COVID-19, Gender-Based Violence and Conflict in Mozambique & the Holy Land - To the Laos, the People of God

Dear People of God

More than three months into the coronavirus pandemic, we are beset by ever-changing challenges as governments ease lockdowns to help save jobs and the economy, while at the same time the incidence of COVID-19 cases is rising in parts of our church Province.

Since I issued my Pentecost letter, hardly two days go by without reports of people known by name in the Church dying, being hospitalised or going into quarantine after being tested positive – parishioners, clergy, clergy spouses, bishops and their families. As I write, the number of cases in South Africa alone has exceeded 160,000, with the number of deaths heading towards 3,000. As Bishop Brian Marajh of George says in an Ad Clerum, “These numbers are no longer just statistics made up of numbers, the numbers have faces, and it is persons known to us or to others that are close to us.”

The financial implications of the pandemic are also afflicting the church, notably bringing about the sudden closure of the Bishop Bavin School in Bedfordview, Gauteng. The school, founded in 1991, was having difficulties already when the pandemic and lockdown hit us, putting paid to efforts by the school and the Diocese of Johannesburg to rescue it.

At a time such as this we are all called upon to be leaders, helping guide our congregations and our communities to make decisions which both keep them safe and allow them to live their lives as normally as possible. But with changes coming so fast, we don't always know in advance what we will be called to make decisions about. Asked at a recent webinar hosted by the Gandhi Development Trust about leading in times of crisis, I emphasised the importance of how we make decisions in disruptive times: approach problems with an open mind; hold firm to your values but be flexible on the policies and actions you adopt; listen to experts with differing opinions; follow the data and the science; seek to find a consensus response; and then communicate your course of action early and often. I repeated this call in an address to the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business.

Most important, in the Church we should strike a note of hope as we steer our way through the pandemic: hope in facing the challenges with eyes of love, sensibility and as much certainty as we can. We need to be asking, who is my neighbour and how do I care for her or his welfare? What can I do to alleviate hunger? How can I help those in quarantine? And we must be disciplined about wearing masks outside the home, observing distancing and generally behaving as Christians with loving hearts, acting lovingly towards others.

I have written before of the shocking occurrences of gender-based violence during lockdown, not only here but across the world. In an important initiative, the authorities in South Africa want to create a National Council for Gender-Based Violence and Femicide which would have as its objective "amplifying the national response to GBV" by building "a strengthened, survivor-focused, resourced and coordinated strategic response" to the problem. Such developments challenge us: what is our response as a Church to the problem, which affects us also? Please pray for the Sithole family in the Diocese of Natal, where Mrs Nomthandazo Cynthia Sithole, the wife of the Revd Sandiso Sithole, Rector of St James Parish, Tongaat, died tragically recently. (Since writing this has come the tragic news that Father Sithole was shot and killed overnight.)

Pray also for the Revd June Major, formerly a priest in the Diocese of Cape Town, who at the time of writing was camping and on a hunger strike outside the gates of Bishopscourt after alleging that she was sexually abused in 2002. Our Canons, Pastoral Standards and the Charter for Safe and Inclusive Church now lay a firm basis for dealing effectively with allegations of abuse – you can find full details here: (Also since writing this, we have issued this statement.

Please pray for the people of northern Mozambique, and especially the Diocese of Nampula, where an insurgency that has grown in recent months and years is bringing terror to people's lives. Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo reports that last weekend the town of Mocimboa da Praia, in the province of Cabo Delgado, was invaded and 30 people were butchered, and their bodies set on fire with petrol from motorcycles in the town. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and Bishop Manuel Ernesto is living in fear.

Pray too for the people of Palestine and Israel, where the Israeli prime minister is threatening to annex the West Bank. Already the establishment of Jewish settlements there has undermined the viability of the long-promoted two-state solution (one supported by the Lambeth Conference) to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land. Annexation would finally put paid to it.

God bless.

† Thabo Cape Town

We don't have to be “Doubting Thomases” in a time of coronavirus - A Homily for St Thomas' Day

Homily preached at a Diocesan Family Service of the Diocese of Cape Town for St Thomas' Day, celebrated on  4th July 2020. The full recording of the service appears at the end of the text: 

Isaiah 43: 8-13 ; John 14: 1- 7

I greet you all in the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of our lives. Amen 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after being forced to be physically distanced from one another for more than three months, it is wonderful to be together electronically to celebrate the life of the Apostle Thomas and to rekindle our love for the Lord of the church. 

A special appreciation to Father Mark Long, for hosting this service, to the Vicar General, Father Keith and your team, to the Dean of Studies and to others who prepared the service. And a special welcome to Bishop-Elect Joshua – it is distressing that we have had to postpone your consecration and installation but at least today we are able as a Diocese together to acknowledge and give thanks for your election as the new Bishop of Table Bay. If we were physically together, I would ask for a round of applause, but since you all should be on mute, let us instead take the opportunity to wave our hands as a greeting to him..... Thank you. To everyone who has joined us online, thank you so much – it is always heart-warming when we meet as the family of God, but never more so than at moments of crisis such as these.

It is appropriate that we are commemorating Thomas at this time, since like him and the other apostles at the Last Supper, we are experiencing uncertainty, doubt and fear. 

In our first reading, which has Isaiah writing during a stormy period in the life of Israel, marking the expansion of the Assyrian empire and the decline of Israel, the prophet unveils the full dimensions of God's judgement and salvation. Despite blindness and deafness, the people of Israel are called upon to witness that Yahweh alone is God, that “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord...”

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is speaking to the apostles at a time when they are looking at one another with anxiety and concern, disturbed by predictions of betrayal and denial. The pervasive theme of John Chapter 14 is one in which Jesus seeks to strengthen their faith, turning their thoughts towards God and assuring them of the spiritual provision God makes for them. 

In the time of the coronavirus, our uncertainty, doubt and fear are exacerbated by the constantly changing nature of the difficulties we are going through, buffetting our emotions and the daily paths of our lives. 

When the first lockdown was imposed, we had to get used to being forced to stay at home, many of us deprived of our jobs and income, all of us living in fear of this new, frightening and previously unknown pathogen. As we adjusted, our fears subsided somewhat as we slowly absorbed the lessons of how best we could protect ourselves, our hopes raised by the easing of the lockdown and the gradual return to work for some. Now that the surge the epidemiologists predicted is hitting us, at the same time as restrictions have been eased, we have to accustom ourselves to the idea that we will live with COVID-19 for many months, even years, to come, and that the best way of coping will be to self-regulate, adjusting our responses and our behaviour to the specific contexts in which each of us live our lives. 

Like Thomas, we may well say: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” We can be strengthened by Jesus's reply to Thomas, giving us an assurance similar to that we saw in the Isaiah reading: “If you know me, you will know my Father also.”

We can also turn this crisis into opportunity, taking advantage of the disruption the virus has brought to the world to think anew about how we want to live our lives, both individually and collectively. In many areas of our lives, the impact of the virus has exacerbated and brought to the surface long-neglected deprivation. I told UCT's Graduate School of Business a few days ago that the virus has opened the lid of a pot under which a cauldron was simmering, a cauldron in which the poor could barely breathe and which had the potential to boil over and blow the lid sky-high.

The loss of income and jobs for people who were already struggling has highlighted anew the poverty that has continued to plague our society since the end of apartheid and the inequality that has only got worse. The poor have erupted into our sight. Gender-based violence is not new, but its incidence has grown, not only in South Africa but across the world, since lockdowns began. While the link between the virus and the continuing racist behaviour and attitudes we experience is not as strong, I have no doubt that the disruption the virus has brought, has played a role in mobilising people everywhere to demand that societies recognise that Black Lives Do Matter. Church and society must seize on the heightened profiles these challenges now enjoy and act in a determined way to address them.

Scientists are telling us that the coronavirus will not be the last new, unknown, life-threatening virus to emerge seemingly from nowhere. We have to  reckon with the likelihood of pandemics to come. In such a world, we have to accept the reality that despite all the progress we have made in the past century, we are weaker than we think as a species. We are not the ultimate arbiters of our fate. That means we need to be prepared to be challenged by completely new paradigms which will emerge, and to be open to adapt without knowing yet what it is that we will have to adapt to. To quote the business leader, Saki Macozoma,  in a recent interchange I had with him: “We have to understand that without a major behavioral change the way we live is not sustainable. Sustainability does not only mean our relationship with and how we use and abuse the finite resources at our disposal. The question is whether we understand where we are and whether we have the capacity to scope and to cope with the new reality.”

As people of faith, my response is that history teaches us that we can and will be able to scope and cope with the new reality. We don't have to be “Doubting Thomases” – as Jesus tells Philip just after reassuring Thomas: “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

God bless you. God loves you, and so do I.

Friday, 3 July 2020

The Need for Steward Leadership in Times of Disruption

Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership

UCT Graduate School of Business

"The Need for Steward Leadership in Times of Disruption” – Webinar in the Allan Gray Speaker Series

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town

June 30, 2020


Thank you, Prof Kurt April, for your kind introduction and welcome. Thank you all for joining me in my reflections as we seek together to make this world a better place for us, our children and their children.

I am an Allan Gray Associate of the Centre who is a spiritual leader. In my daily life as a teacher in the Christian family, I wrestle with the question, “What are the signs of the times?” Even before COVID-19 times, I was asking, what is it that is so profoundly disrupting life as we know it? What disrupts our economic and sociological certainties, and the social practices that we have long taken for granted and accepted as axiomatic? In the light of the disruptions we are experiencing in the 21st century, what are the possibilities of thinking and acting differently?

The coronavirus crisis only intensifies the questioning. The epidemiologsts have been telling us for years that this kind of pandemic was inevitable, and they continue to warn us that there will be new pandemics in future. This means that the sense we developed in the 20th century that the world was coming under our control is illusory. We have to be ready to change the way we live – knowing we will have to adapt without knowing exactly what we will have to adapt to.

On the plus side, the disruption offers space in our understanding of leadership that allows for something new to be considered. Since we don't know what we will be called to make decisions about, my focus as a Christian spiritual leader is on the principles of how we make decisions in disruptive times – principles such as approaching crises with an open mind; on the importance of holding firm to your values, but being flexible on appropriate responses; on the need to convene and listen to experts, including those of differing opinions; and on promoting a consensus response where possible.

I also find it helpful to view our challenges as if we are interacting with our families. Is what I value at family level, congruent with what I value and practise in public? In my work and public life, do I act with the same integrity as I must with the members of my family who know me well? And families are useful at bringing you down to earth, teaching you humility and forcing you to keep your sense of humour. I'll never forget being sent to pray with the Hani family in Dawn Park, Boksburg, after Chris was murdered in 1993. Taking myself seriously, I hesitated over how to minister to a room full of people I assumed were communists, until the Eastern Cape veteran and Rivonia trialist, Raymond Mhlaba, broke the ice by saying, “Please pray, Mfundisi, we may be communists, but we know the Lord’s Prayer!”

Most people, whether they know anything about the Christian Bible or not, do however know and use the term “good Samaritan”. I am reminded of the indigenous healer from Alexandra township, who is said to have told a patient: “Hey, I charge real money, I am not a good Samaritan!“

After recent controversy about a public figure's use of the Bible, allegedly to question Government policy towards Israel, I must be careful to get my hermeneutics – that is, my interpretation of the Bible – correct in the public domain. But the story of the Samaritan – the stranger who in Luke's Gospel goes out of his way to help a Jewish crime victim on the side of the road, despite the distrust between the two groups – is a story that speaks of a paradigm shift born of disruption. The Samaritan's journey is disrupted by the appearance of a victim who is wounded, treated badly and dehumanised by others.

The victim stands for those whom Frantz Fanon has called the wretched of the earth – the poor, the marginalised, those who have been deprived of their means of sustainability, those who have pain of whatever kind inflicted on them by others. We know who they are, and one of the realities of this pandemic is that it has blatantly exposed in a new way the injustices which ravage our world.

The context for Steward Leadership

It is not only the questioning that the COVID-19 crisis intensifies. It has of course also intensified the disruption, and enjoins us to act with new urgency as steward leaders, rooting out the injustices of the past, healing divisions by creating a non-racial country, ending inequality, improving the quality of life for all citizens, freeing the potential of every South African and through God’s blessing building a democratic country.

While disruption did not begin with the coronavirus lockdown, it has opened the lid of a pot under which a cauldron was simmering, a cauldron in which the poor could barely breathe and which had the potential to boil over and blow the lid sky-high. COVID-19 is reminding us of the constitutional value of solidarity with the poor, the unseen, the abused and the powerless.

Long lines of people waiting to vote are a phenomenon of which we are proud in our country, associated as they are with holding our leaders to account. But now the long lines are of people waiting for food parcels, a consequence of the economic lockdown and the growing number of unemployed. The poor have erupted into our sight. I want to argue that steward leadership compels us to see them as a lens through which we must view everything in our post- pandemic world. As the South American philosopher and theologian, Gustavo GutiĆ©rrez, posited, the poor are right there in front of us, in a million ways which we can’t easily explain away. They are in front of us in all their woundedness, bearing the scars of what others have done to them.

The Good Samaritan as model for Steward Leadership in times of disruption

My point is that responsible leadership, steward leadership, servant leadership, attuned leadership, transactional, transformative leadership– that to be credible, any leadership must be leadership that also responds to the poor and to the victims of the world's dominant forces. And we don't need a mandate to be leaders, the Preamble of our Constitution opens with the words, “We, the people of South Africa...”, giving us all the responsibility of realising its aspiration to improve the quality of life of all our citizens and free the potential of each person.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, institutional leaders, for reasons that seem justified to them, will not take on this task, making the story one which sits uncomfortably with those of us whose leadership is born of the world’s institutions. Those leaders gave a wide berth to human suffering, to the cries of the poor. They refused to respond to disruption and so missed the opportunity to serve, or indeed to be remembered. They were like the populist autocrats of today, whether in Poland, Hungary, Brazil or the United States, focused on the interests of the ruling elite and not those of the people. Even now as the pandemic rages across all sorts of institutions, those who benefit from the old order, the old rules and privileges, seek to take our world back in a direction that re-secures their privileges once this hour of disruption has passed.

In contrast, the story of the Samaritan is of a man who came from a marginalised community, from outside institutions, shunned by the power structures of the time, who moved from distant sympathetic observation, who moved from the side lines to the point of making himself vulnerable enough to engage with a victim and to bind his wounds. The story makes it clear that in times of disruption the hour dawns for new leadership to emerge, leadership from the margins, from non-hereditary leadership structures. In our times, the first priority of people of goodwill should be to be attentive to the places that are producing new leaders, to listen to them and to bolster the gift they bring to our societies. Our time calls for the Samaritan approach.

And of course we don't have to rely only on Christian precepts to support the case for a new kind of leadership. All the major religions of the world have, as Desmond Tutu has said, a high doctrine of humanity, and among Gandhi's much-cited seven deadly sins are pleasure without conscience, wealth without work, commerce without morality and politics without principle.

Traits of Samaritan (leadership) post Covid-19

Real meaningful post COVID-19 steward leadership is going to ask for more than just people who express sympathy but who remain distant from the groans of the poor and victimised. Leadership will be good only if it moves beyond comfort zones, safe spaces, disengaged charity, and actually encounters the woundedness, touches it, is dirtied by it, feels the pain and enters it. This involves more than addressing poverty; it also means, for example, addressing the scandal of gender-based violence. We need to hear the words of the great African saint, St Augustine of Hippo, that “charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” This should establish our benchmark for future leaders.

Moving beyond charity inevitably means addressing the economic systems which, as the global financial crisis and the continuing fragility of the global economy have shown us, need to be re-thought for the century we live in. Some years ago, I took part in an Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management in Hong Kong, where theologians and economists resolved to become advocates of a new form of global governance and a new economic model, pledging to seek practical ways to transform the market economy from a self-serving mechanism for elites to one which serves our environment and all the world's people. The need for this was stated bluntly and eloquently by Pope Francis when he said, and I quote: “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or for that matter, to any problems.”

The justice that leaders need to work for includes climate justice: we have to be good stewards of the whole of creation by working to mitigate the effect of climate change, not least for the sake of the poor and marginalised. This was brought home dramatically to me last year when I made two trips to northern Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, where I saw vivid evidence of how helpless the poor and marginalised were to mitigate the deleterious effects of climate change. Again, I quote Pope Francis, this time on the link between ending poverty and working for climate justice: “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” and “There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself.”

I have said many times that corruption of any kind is ultimately theft from the poor. The point doesn’t need elaborating: it is as obvious as how deeply embedded fraud and misappropriation of public money has become in South Africa, where only 20% of people think that business leaders can be trusted to tell the truth and only 13% trust politicians to be honest. The restoration of honesty as both a personal and public value is one of the most crying needs of our time.


I have spoken mostly in the language of my faith tradition, thus essentially reflecting a private position, but my and others' faiths, even on the most superficial readings of them, also offer deep and powerful public consequences.

We have great problems. But we must make the demands of the neediest the highest priority of our nation and every part of society. The solutions are neither quick nor easy. Openness, honesty, transparency and trust are necessary to ease our difficult journey forward. In other words , only the truth can set us free.

I have posited a leadership that is sensitive to new, non-traditional, non-hereditary spaces where different kinds of leadership are emerging; a leadership to be nurtured and listened to and that does not fear proximity to woundedness and the causes of woundedness. This stated, we will be relying on the generation of post COVID-19 leaders to imagine differently, think more compassionately, act more justly and lead more honestly so that future generations will look back and acknowledge that the very fact of disruption in our world also accounted for the greatest eruption in contemporary history of leadership that is pro-poor, pro-justice and pro- a better life for all.

This moment in our history calls for such leaders. To adapt the old adage, “Cometh the hour, cometh the leaders.” May it be so.


Monday, 15 June 2020

Transforming Anglican schools - Statement by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) acknowledges the anger of some in our schools who have once again challenged the church to face the pain of experiences of racism and of feeling that they do not belong.

They urge that we address with new urgency the processes of recognition and reconciliation which have occupied our church and its schools over many years in our journey towards  integrity in our Christian identity, ethos and witness.

We affirm those school leadership teams which have been addressing these painful issues over time. We regret the inequities and consequent pain which continue. We recognise that the pace of both recognition and change needs to be accelerated in many contexts.

We urge schools and dioceses to ensure that policy and practice designed to foster institutional cultures of healing, inclusion and justice are set forward in any place that bears our name.

We ask the Anglican Board of Education to help strengthen oversight and support for journeys of recognition and reconciliation embarked upon by our schools towards transformation and integrity in our identity and witness.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Sermon on the Feast of Corpus Christi in a time of coronavirus

A Virtual Service for Corpus Christi in the Diocese of Cape Town, June 11, 2020

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

1 Corinthians 10: 16-17; Psalm 146

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to these midday prayers on this wonderful Feast of Corpus Christi. Thank you to the Vicar-General, Father Keith, for convening us, and to the Liturgy Team for developing the form of service for us. Thank you, Archdeacon Mark, and all the readers.

Today we gather online to give thanks for the institution of the Eucharist, the Sacrament in which Christ is made real among us, in which we identify ourselves with Christ's obedience to God and in which we find fellowship with another and are then sent out into the world to be God's instruments of love.

It goes without saying that it is a strange time in which to be commemorating the institution of the Lord's Supper, a time – unprecedented in the last 100 years – when we can't gather together physically to do so because of a pandemic. For Anglicans, it is especially disconcerting, since for us, as Archbishop Rowan Williams has said, ”the Church is most truly itself when it is engaged in sacramental worship; that when above all it meets for the Eucharist, it… expresses its deepest identity.”

But when we celebrate the Eucharist, we are not doing it as an act in itself – we are doing it in remembrance of Christ, who was sent by God to feed, nurture and strengthen us for service, and to assure us that we are part of God's design, part of the eternal dimension of the existence of all creation. Our hope, as the Psalm says, is in the Lord our God. Whether or not we are at the moment physically able, in Paul's words to the Christians of Corinth, to partake of the one bread, we are still one body in Christ. The unity of the body of Christ, the Church, remains.

Contemplating the Eucharist at this particular moment in our lives compels me to address the issue of when we will be able again to resume services in our church buildings. We value deeply the remarkable gifts for innovation that most of you, our clergy, and supportive lay people have been displaying with online services, readings, prayers, reflections, midday prayers, the Angelus and other ministries. You have done a magnificent job. But we all still look forward to the day when it is safe to go back to church.

We may be one body, but as Paul told the church in Rome, the body has a variety of parts and gifts. As I said in my Letter for Pentecost last week, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to re-opening for worship. I've just had morning prayers with the bishops this morning, and different dioceses have differing lockdown regimens, or face differing levels of infection. So each Diocese will have to adjust their approach according to the risk in their areas.

Most importantly, we as a Diocese through Chapter have chosen to demonstrate our solidarity by deciding that for as long as one church cannot re-open for worship, none will. That's a beautiful Pauline principle. Since those parishes with fewer material resources will find it more difficult to prepare for worship, this will encourage those with more resources to partner and share with others. I hope that parishes with the resources will indeed help others with, for example, such supplies as sanitisers, printed service sheets where people don't have their own Prayer Books, tape to enforce distancing inside churches and whatever else they need.

We need to be especially careful about the return to worship of parishioners and clergy who are over 60. Professor Karim, the chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, has warned church leaders that the death rate for COVID-19 patients between 60 and 70 is three times higher than for others, and the risk is particularly big if conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are not well managed. For those above 70 with pre-existing conditions, the risks of having COVID-19 are very high, and he says they should self-isolate and stay at home until a vaccine is found. This morning the Bishop of Grahamstown shared that three of his clergy have already died and three of his laity have died. Bishop Margaret shared that a deacon and a deacon's family as well as the wife of a priest are COVID positive, and we know that as a Diocese we are in what is called a hotspot.

I hope you are meeting with your Church Wardens and lay leaders in order to plan your return in detail. The SACC has issued detailed guidelines, drawn up by a group of national church leaders which I led, which you need to study to ensure that we meet all the requirements that need to be observed. We are still awaiting advice on the legal liability of parishes and dioceses should parishioners contract COVID-19 in church. Many parishes in the Province are designating Coronavirus Compliance Officers to ensure that safe conditions are met. In the meantime, I hope you are all managing to minister to your parishioners by phone, emails, WhatsApp and in other ways.

As many elements of the lockdown continue, it is important that we keep up hope for the future – but hope not as a paracetamol that will take away the headache of the coronavirus. Hope is rather about acknowledging our fears and dealing with the pain and uncertainty generated by the pandemic. Hope is the story of our salvation, our lives lived with the assurance that “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” (1 Thess. 5:24) Let us commit to taking the journey of hope even as we work through the reality of COVID-19, however long it takes.

We give thanks to God that through his Word and, as we celebrate in particular today, his Sacrament, we are constantly nurtured, formed and sent out into the world to go and live out the justice, the peace and the unity Christ proclaims.

God bless you.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Religious leaders hold 'Black LIves Matter' prayer vigils

At St George's Cathedral, Cape Town (Photo: Craig Stewart)
Religious leaders in Cape Town and Pretoria held prayer vigils on Trinity Sunday in solidarity with people who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers during lockdown in South Africa and abroad.

The vigils took place outside St George's and St Alban's cathedrals. The full text of a message Archbishop Thabo Makgoba delivered at the end of the Cape Town vigil can be found beneath this SABC news report.

Message by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Black Lives Matter Silent Vigil, June 7, 2020

We are gathered here because Black Lives Matter, whether in South Africa, the United States, France, Australia or elsewhere.

Our prayers here today have been for Collins Khoza and all those he represents in South Africa who have been killed by forces deployed by the State to enforce lockdown regulations. They have been for George Floyd and all those he represents in the United States, for Adama Traore and all those he represents in France, and for David Dungay, an indigenous Australian who died saying “I can't breathe”, and all those he represented.

We are here because we are tired..... sick to death..... exhausted.... at the seemingly never-ending struggle that people of colour still face, well into the 21st century, 50 years after the American civil rights struggle, 25 years after the end of political apartheid, to be treated equally by arms of the State. We are here because we protest against the wanton, unnecessary use of violence by police and soldiers who break the laws they are entrusted to uphold and assault protestors of whatever race who declare that Black Lives Matter.

We are shocked at the way in which the SA National Defence Force, with the most rudimentary, inadequate reasoning imaginable, has exonerated its soldiers of any culpability in Mr Khosa's death, and at the repudiation of their minister's statement that the matter has not been finalised.

We are shocked at the blatant disrespect for law and order shown by members of the Buffalo, New York police squad, 57 of whom resigned from their unit not because two of their number were implicating in assaulting a 75-year-old man, inflicting head injuries, but because the two were suspended.

In South Africa, when President Ramaphosa announced that he would send law enforcement forces to our communities, he made a clear plea to both the police and the military that this should not be a time for “skiet en donder”. His words have fallen on deaf ears.

In our own backyards, at least 12 people are reported to have died at the hands of the police and army troops. We recognise that investigations are still ongoing, but we are deeply concerned that the plight of our sisters and brothers is going unnoticed and forgotten.

So we pray for and stand in solidarity with the families of the following people: [moment of silence after each name?]

    • Collins Khosa, 40, who died in Alexandra, Johannesburg on Good Friday

    • Petrus Miggels, 55, who died in Ravensmead, Cape Town on 27 March 2020

    • Sibusiso Amos, 40, who died in Vosloorus, Ekhurhuleni on 29 March 2020

    • Adane Emmanuel, who died in Isipingo, Durban on 2 April 2020

    • Robyn Montsumi, 39, who died in Mowbray police station, 12 April 2020
    • And for all others who have been brutalised during the lockdown.

We pray too for the families of the following Americans:

    • George Floyd, 46, killed on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

    • Ahmaud Arbery, 25, killed on 23 February 2020 in Glynn County, Georgia

    • Breonna Taylor, 26, killed on 13 March 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky

    • Atatiana Jefferson, 26, killed on 12 October 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas

    • And for all those who have been brutalised in the protests of recent days.

God bless South Africa. God bless Africa and God bless the world.