Local religious leaders in the City of Cape Town are planning a second big inter-faith prayer service for healing and peace on the Cape Flats. The event is earmarked to coincide with the 16 Days of Activism and the start of the festive season. The faith leaders have also come out in support of a proposed Gugulethu shutdown protest, planned for later this month.
These were among several decisions adopted at the 5th Cape Flats Inter-faith Dialogue meeting held at Masjidul Quds Mosque in Gatesville on Wednesday 2 October 2019, and hosted by the Service and Allied Workers Union of South (SAWUSA). Christian and Muslim leaders at the meeting lauded the faith based interventions conducted so far in response to the war on the Cape Flats and vowed to continue with a vibrant program of action aimed at restoring community and neighbourly values. They will also continue to deploy peace and compassion teams in depressed communities suffering from the scourge of gender based violence and gangsterism on the Cape Flats.
Recognising the impact the first inter-faith prayer service, held at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in August, had on the surrounding Kewtown community, the faith leaders resolved to arrange a similar prayer service in Mitchells Plain on Sunday 24 November.
The prayer service, much like the first one, will involve a peace procession and cleansing rituals at gang and crime hotspots in Mitchell’s Plain.
“The prayers and acts of sanctification around gang hotspots in Kewtown that was conducted in August had an impact on that community in terms of comfort to those tragically affected but also the visible act of rebuking the heinous activities gave courage to those who want to oppose or leave their criminal ways,” said Wilfred Alcock, President of the Service and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (SAWUSA).
SAWUSA has been instrumental in bringing faith leaders together in a series of dialogues, and also convening the first inter-faith prayer service, at which the Cape Flats Interfaith Declaration was adopted.
At the latest dialogue held on Wednesday, the faith leaders also endorsed a call for a Gugulethu shutdown on 17 October. Gugulethu, Nyanga and Delft n the Cape Flats, together make up South Africa’s murder and crime epicentre.
The religious leaders will join community and social justice activists participating in the Gugulethu shutdown and will offer prayers at the start of the planned demonstration as well as prayers at the Gugulethu police station for deliverance from corrupt acts by members of the police on the Cape Flats.
The group is also committed to seeking partnerships of trust with government authorities. A small task team led by Rev. Berry Behr, Chairperson of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative (CTII), has agreed to respond to an invitation by Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato for religious communities to duplicate the Beacon Valley Resurrection Project in a few other Cape Flats communities.
These will be pilot programmes to mitigate against violence and crime. The group’s mandate specifically is to seek a partnership with the City of Cape Town in procuring trauma counselling skills for religious leaders working in gang and violence-ridden communities.
Among the practical measures rolled out by faith leaders since they first came together in July, has been pastoral support and counselling to some of those affected by atrocity crimes. These interventions will continue and be expanded.
Rev Yvonne Daki of the Western Cape Women in Ministry will lead a team of interfaith religious leaders to offer pastoral support and counselling to the families of slain Clarissa Lindoor from Cloetesville in Stellenbosch and the families of the three children shot dead in Clarke Estate.
“We are deeply concerned about the well being of the two-year old son of Clarissa Lindoor, who is displaying signs of traumatic stress and violent behaviour and we will solicit the support and assistance of social workers who are members of SAWUSA,” said Rev Daki.
She added that the impoverished community of Clarke Estate was in dire need of socio-economic upliftment and that the faith leaders would assist the community to establish a Community Development Forum.
The Western Cape Dean of the Lutheran Church of South Africa, Pastor De Vries Bock will spearhead post trauma pastoral visits to the family of Jess Hess, who along with her grandfather, were murdered in Parow.
“Religious leaders are deeply concerned at the inability of police to arrest the perpetrators of the murder of Jesse Hess and her grandfather and their failure to shut down the drug dens in King Edward street in Parow where drug peddling openly took place even while religious leaders were conducting prayers at this crime hot hotspot on Sunday 25 September,” said Pastor Bock.
Alcock added that religious leaders who are part of this progressive movement on the Cape Flats will use mosque and church facilities to roll out youth character development programmes such as starting karate, basketball, boy scouts and girl guide clubs.
“We want to join forces to make a greater impact by jointly providing soup and feeding schemes in impoverished communities and using the grounds of religious institutions to start community food gardens.”