Religious leaders condemn racism, violent protests

FEBRUARY 6, 2015

Interfaith Working Group members on Friday pledged to continue carrying out the role of faith based organisations in creating a better life for all South Africans and instiling peace in the country.

This after President Jacob Zuma launched the first Presidential Interfaith Working Group meeting at the Union Buildings in Pretoria this morning.

Chairperson of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa, Bishop Daniel Matebesi, said the meeting between government and religious leaders was a success and it looked into issues of service delivery, amongst others.

“Destruction of public property is one of the issues we discussed in the meeting with the President. As religious leaders we should play a pivotal role in educating our communities… even if they [communities] have a right to protest and raise their problems, they do not have the right to destroy public property,” said Matebesi.

Pastor Ray McCauley of Rhema Bible Church also found the meeting with the President very cordial.

With regard to the role played by the religious community in the country, McCauley said: “It has always been important in the years gone by, and it is still important today… being the moral conscience of society, looking at issues [affecting] children and women, helping communities affected by xenophobia”.

McCauley said with various violent service delivery protests that have been occurring in different parts of the country recently, the faith based community still needs to play its role of instiling peace in society.

Condemning racial discrimination

Matebesi said religious leaders condemn any racial discrimination, including recent incidents that have been reported in schools in the country.

“We plead with principals of those schools and citizens… we need peace, stability and harmony in our country because we all fought for this country,” said Matebesi.

McCauley also condemned issues of racism, saying they should be confronted and addressed.

“There is still very deep racialism which needs to be addressed. There are communities that are separated, divided and that needs to be addressed on the basis of value of society, seeing people equal and dealing with each other,” he said.

Photo: Bishop Daniel Matebesi Chairperson of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa.