South African Inter-Faith Prayer Service

Media Statement

24 September, 2020


Issued by the office of the SACC General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana for the Interfaith Consultation on Covid-19

“South Africa’s greatest strength and hope for the future is the spirit of our people, our resilience and courage, our faith and fortitude. This is the greatest heritage that we all share together, regardless of our diversity of traditions; and it brings hope at the COVID-19 time of despair, with job losses; hunger and food security; collapse of businesses; domestic tensions and gender based violence. On this Heritage Day, we call on South Africans to dig deep into their positive humane heritage to build a post-COVID-19 future of which we can all be proud.”

These were the words of the Interfaith Consultation on COVID-19, COVID-19 corruption and the culture of corruption that is threatening to define the heritage of the South African Society.

The South African Council of Churches; The Muslim Judicial Council; The South African Hindu Maha Sabha, The office of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, and The Council of Muslim Theologians [Jamiatul Ulama South Africa], met together on the eve of Heritage Day, to prepare for a joint public act of worship set for Sunday September 27; this in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the added burden of COVID-19 corruption.

The faith leaders condemned the callous theft of public money intended to save lives, by those who scheme crooked contracts, inflate prices to snatch as much of the budget as they can, and those who use their connections and their undue political influence to rob and defraud the State. On the eve of South Africa’s Heritage Day, the leaders reiterated the refrain that “Corruption is not our Heritage”. They expressed dismay that after so many weeks of talking, not a single crooked COVID-preneur has seen the back door of a police cell; nor had orange overalls cut for them.

Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie of the Muslim Judicial Council called on all South Africans to “stand firm against all forms of sin and corruption, to have the deep thought for the poor, weak, elderly and underprivileged. They are to be taken care off and not to be abused!”

Lamenting the unconscionably wicked COVID-19 corruption that undermines the good heritage of our society, Pundit Ashwin Trikamjee quoted the sacred Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita, as he applied them to this situation saying, “Age-long family traditions disappear with the destruction of a family; and virtue having been lost, vice takes hold of
the entire country!”

The leaders called for public consequences for wrongdoing by public officials and their business accomplices. That, they said, was the least that could be done to honour those who gave their all to save lives in COVID-19 time. Recalling the pains of apartheid days, SACC’s Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said, “are we to repeat the famous lament of the remarkable George Bizos who exclaimed at inquiries into apartheid wrong-doers that always ended with ‘No one to blame’?” “Not under our watch!” He vowed!

The leaders commit to work with their various faith communities to intensify the call for transparency, accountability and good governance. They call on their communities to detect and act against all signs of corruption in their areas of life. In pursuit of these objectives, they will conduct an interfaith service at 13h00 – 15h00 on Sunday 27 September to bring before God their common commitment to:

  • Stand together for a common witness against the national scourge of COVID-19
  • Stand with the nation in memory of those who have passed away because of COVID-
    19, and those who have been infected.
  • Stand with the nation in gratitude for the journey travelled from March until now; and in
    appreciation of the decline in infections and the rising numbers of those who survive
    COVID-19 illness.
  • Call on the nation to enter the next phase of the journey with courage and discipline – for
    the Coronavirus is not on Level One!

Regarding this act of worship, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein said: “Let’s come together in unity and love, let’s harness the power of prayer and to give grateful thanks to and invoke the blessings of our Creator to bring healing to our country and our world”.

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