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.

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