The Council of Churches Condemns Violence against Women and Foreign Nationals
In times of crisis, we look to our leaders for answers. Depending on who you are, those leaders might be politicians, parents, professors, or religious leaders. So far as South Africa is concerned, the South African Council of Churches (SACC ) often acts as all four.
What is South African Council of Churches (SACC ) Mandate?
Founded in 1968, the SACC lent its weight to the battle against Apartheid, working alongside the ANC, PAC & other activist movements of the time. Today, it is made up of over thirty-six denominations and describes its mission thusly:
‘The SACC works for moral reconstruction in South Africa, focusing on issues of justice, reconciliation, integrity of creation and the eradication of poverty and contributing towards the empowerment of all who are spiritually, socially and economically marginalised.’
It is, then, no surprise that the SACC has now spoken up on behalf of women and foreign nationals, the two marginalized groups who are at the moment, suffering deeply. This generally stems from economical frustrations, social ills and mis-guidance where these turn to fuels these acts of abusive violence.
Think about these numbers, ‘God heal our Land’
Think about these numbers: police records show that from 2017 to 2018, there were 177,620 attacks on women reported. Of those, 36,731 involved rape or some other type of sexual assault, and there were 2,639 murders – approximately one every three hours. From April 2018 to September 2018, 55 police officers were accused of rape. Recently, protests have broken out across the country in reaction to this continued onslaught.
Of course, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. We have no way of knowing how many women are sexually assaulted or abused by their partners and don’t inform the police, either because they don’t believe it will help or because they fear repercussions from their rapist. The situation could be much worse than it seems. In all likelihood, it is.
The situation is similar for foreign nationals. Often, crimes against this community aren’t reported at all. Here is what we do know: xenophobic attacks peaked in 2008, when migrant-owned shops were targeted for vandalism, burglary, and worse. At least sixty people were killed in the midst of this tidal wave of violence that drew outcry from the international community. It peaked again in 2015, and attacks have broken out yet again this year. Hundreds of members of South Africa’s Nigerian community are being evacuated, meaning that our country is losing skills, knowledge, and a part of its connection with the rest of Africa.
Keep on praying and condemning and condemning?
All this is why Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, the SACC’s General Secretary, released a statement calling on our leaders to step up and fight back:
‘“We cannot just keep on praying and condemning and condemning. We have to do something specific and we need your information. You’ll feed that through this task team. What is actually happening? What do you see? What do you hear?”’Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana
In times like these, it’s encouraging to see organised religious movements reaching out to the helpless and the oppressed. Let’s all answer the Bishop’s call and do what we can to help our nation heal.