2021 COVID-19 STATEMENT BY INTERFAITH LEADERS – THIRD WAVE

The SACC is an instrument and servant of its members.

1 July 2021
Joint Statement
Issued by the SACC for the Religious Forum Against COVID-19

The Religious Forum Against COVID-19 stands in solidarity as faith leaders in
response to the urgent matter of COVID-19 infections, as part of the broader
objective of collaborating in making for a safer South African environment. Our
country, together with the global community has been at war with this pandemic for
the past 16 months and is currently in the midst of the third wave. It is time for us all
to pull together in unity once more, and act to protect and save lives in the war
against COVID-19.
The Religious Forum Against COVID-19 is made up of different religious
organisations and faith traditions that have all been working independently to
address the ravages of COVID-19 in the country and within their faith communities.
The leaderships of these religious communities have now partnered together, to pool
their influence and resources to fight the Coronavirus as a collective.
Speaking on behalf of the Religious Forum Against COVID-19, Professor Brij
Maharaj of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha (SAHMS) emphasised the need for
active leadership from religious organisations: “The voices of religious leaders
should be more vocal on this issue. If religion cannot contribute to the greater good
of humanity, then is it fulfilling its duty to humanity?” This sentiment was echoed by
Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, Deputy President of the Muslim Judicial Council, who
said, “The leaders of our faiths must work together in joint messaging to help reduce
infection amongst our people and save lives!”
Numerous challenges face the country, the greatest of which is the alarming rate of
infections as has been witnessed over the last few weeks, with Gauteng emerging as
the epicentre of infections. Secondary to this are the numerous delays, both within
and outside of Government’s control, that have limited the speed that the COVID-19
vaccine has been rolled out. The interfaith religious leaders are, therefore, issuing a strong call-to-action for
increased social solidarity and the promotion the value of mutual care that must be
considered in all homes in order to curb large family and community festivities.
“There must also be a re-affirmed adjustment to all faith practises by all faith based
organisations, which we have had to endure in the fight against the pandemic,” said
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the SACC. This responsibility
extends to how best the religious leaders can encourage their communities to
sustain the micro-actions of COVID-19 compliance in their everyday living, as a
matter of course. “As a country, there is no room to let our guard (and masks) down.
We must continue to look after ourselves and our loved ones by observing all the
protocols as outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his national address on 15
June 2021, where he announced the move to Level 3 lockdown,” he added. This
sentiment was supported by Moulana Ebrahim Bham, Secretary General, Council of
Muslim Theologians, who added: “At this stage, the reality is in front of all of us. Let
us put our debates aside and do the needful. People are gravely ill and we are losing
our loved ones. We have to take all available and appropriate measures in protecting
everyone, with the help of the Almighty.”
The Government will continue rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, even despite the
challenges that have been experienced, however there is still a level of resistance
that South Africans have towards the vaccine. However, the myriad of untruths
about the Coronavirus vaccine that emerged at the beginning of the year have, by
now hopefully been set aside by the over one million South Africans, and countless
others around the world who have received the vaccine and who remain in good
health. This is further evidenced by the public vaccination of many religious leaders,
as an example of the safety and efficacy of the Coronavirus vaccine.
Faith leaders categorically endorse all scientifically tested and approved Coronavirus
vaccines that will heal the afflicted and save lives. They further commit to use their
platforms to help bridge the information gap, especially in poorer rural communities
as there is a need to increase the rate at which South Africans are registering to
receive the vaccine.
To this end, the Religious Forum Against COVID-19 calls on faith based organisation
to use their infrastructure and member databases to ensure that the elderly in their
spaces are assisted with registration for the vaccination. This should extend to the
use of religious buildings as vaccination sites. “If our elders do not vaccinate they
remain the most vulnerable. We call on all South Africans to help senior citizens
register for the vaccine. Together we can help our elders live beyond the pandemic,”
said Bishop Mpumlwana.
This commitment is not just made towards the elderly, who face various challenges
to registration such as access to technology, mobility based on physical ailments, as
well as access to registration and vaccination centres. The work of the Religious
Forum Against COVID-19 will endeavour to motivate citizens to register as per the
National Department of Health vaccine roll out strategy, up to the point that the
country reaches population immunity. The onus is therefore, on all South Africans to register themselves and support the
registration of all senior citizens. “No one in South Africa will be safe until we have
all been vaccinated and reach population immunity,” said Pastor Giet Khosa of
Rhema Family of Churches. “Together, in unity, we can defeat COVID-19 through our
individual efforts at staying safe and getting vaccinated,” he concluded.
Together we can all live beyond the pandemic.
This is everyone’s war to fight and win.
—ENDS—
To access the cloud recording of the meeting, please use this link:
Topic: Religious Forum Against COVID-19 Round Table Webinar
Host: South African Council of Churches
Date: Jul 1, 2021 09:56 AM Johannesburg
https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/
7fPV4UsXy1lacqlLLGEQjqGLSkYyXyCDLSAJJR0K0rw4aG1sG74kSgI3nSHCjTJG.7j7diOY
xe9XkKVr5
Passcode: ^Bip16*m
Editor’s Notes:
Interfaith Leaders represented include:
• The Muslim Judicial Council
• The South African Hindu Maha Sabha (SAHMS)
• Union of Orthodox Synagogues
• The Council of Muslim Theologians (Jimiatul Ulama South African)
• Council of Muslim Theologians (Jamiatul Ulama)
• The South African Council of Church (SACC)
• The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA)
• Believers in Christ
• Council of African Independent Churches (CAIC)
• International Federation of Christian Churches
• Nazareth Baptist Church (Shembe, Thembezinhle)
• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Media enquiries:
Khuthalani Khumalo
SACC Communications Consultant
South African Council of Churches
Tel: 084 074 1285 | Email: khuthalani@khuthalani.net