Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, has strongly denounced political violence as well as violence in schools, the mining sector and during service delivery protests.
Makgoba was delivering his sermon during the annual Midnight Mass at St George’s Cathedral.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was among the congregants who attended the service.
Over the last few years, Archbishop Makgoba’s addresses have been critical of government leadership.
But in 2018, he says he has decided otherwise.
“I have said I am not going to focus tonight on the behaviour of our leaders and our government. Instead, I want all of us as South Africans, every woman, man and child to look at ourselves and to examine our own behaviour and that of the institutions we work most closely with. Isn’t it time for all of us, working in our areas of influence, to write our own history?”
He has pointed out three areas of concern. The archbishop started by condemning the high levels of violence during recent strikes.
“What particularly worries me is the violent intimidation we have seen during strikes in recent weeks, not only in the mining but in the plastic industry. To date, three people have been killed and others injured at the Sibanye Still Water Mines and a security guard has died after being doused with petrol and set alight at an East Rand Plastic Company. That is not on.”
Makgoba says he is also alarmed by the aggression in schools where both teachers and learners have become victims.
“With learners attacking one another and even their teachers, during this past year, there has been scores of cases in which learners have assaulted their teachers in classrooms in the Western Cape. In other parts of the country, we have seen shocking videos of learners attacking their teachers. In one school in Gauteng, a learner pulled a gun and threatened to shoot a teacher. In North West, another learner allegedly stabbed a teacher to death in a classroom. It can’t be on. Similarly, service delivery protests are really not free of violence and the destruction of government property such as libraries, schools and clinics, the very facilities that are there to serve the communities that are inflicting this damage. “
He says he is similarly worried about politically motivated killings in the country, but also extended some confidence in the new administration.
“At the same time as highly contested elections loom next year, we are seeing a spike in threats of violence as well as the ongoing killings of political opponents in some parts of the country. Of course, we welcome the changes in government since last Christmas, when I called from this pulpit for the replacement of the then President. We welcome those steps taken to clean up government and to root out corruption in the public and private sector. But how far will good clean government take us when people are killed on the picket lines, stabbed in our schools, beaten up in service delivery protests and assassinated in disputes over who will hold public office. Regrettably, we are a nation believing that outcomes are achieved only through violence.”
The archbishop has told congregants that various sectors of society have to joined hands to root out the violence.
“Our leaders in government, in churches, in business, in organised labour, in education and politics have a significant responsibility to provide a much-needed moral leadership to redefine how we disagree, how we find consensus and create the society we all strive for. Dear friends, the solution ultimately lies in your own hands. The historical context of the inter-relationships between protest and violence does not justify this psyche and behaviour.”
Makgoba ended with this Christmas message for his congregants and South Africans.
“My prayer, at this Christmas time, is that he may shower you with his blessings. And that the blessings of this Holy night will accompany you through the year ahead. God Loves you and so do I. God Bless you; God Bless your family; and God Bless South Africa! Merry Christmas!”
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