17 June 2021
From the desk of the General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana
The memory of the tragedy that took place in the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Boipatong outside Vereeniging on the night of 17 June 1992 is still fresh in the minds of those who witnessed the tragedy. The intervention of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) was extended in response to the brutality of the situation, with church leaders like Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, officiating at the mass funeral for the 45 who lost their lives.
The woes of Boipatong seem not to have dissipated over the decades, as once, hundreds armed with weapons marched to the site of the massacre; today those same streets are littered with debris and running sewerage and the area has become synonymous with poor municipal services.
The SACC remembers the pain of the people of Boipatong then, and recognises their pain in this moment. “Our collective revulsion at the conditions that still exist in this community – 29 years after such a heavy price was paid on the eve of South Africa’s democracy, is what has motivated the SACC church leaders to plan an official visit to Boipatong,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the SACC. This visit will highlight the unending pain of Boipatong, and communication is underway in consultation with leaders of local pastoral initiatives to champion the development of the township and its communities.
“We applaud the local leaders who, for no political reasons or gains, but only compassionate pastoral motives, expend themselves over the pain of Boipatong,” said Bishop Mpumlwana. “Our desire is to see hope restored to Boipatong – the hope that the people were robbed of in 1992. We cannot undo the events of the past, but we have a duty sow the seed of hope, according to Hebrews 6:19 which reads: This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” concluded Bishop Mpumlwana.
SACC Communications Consultant
South African Council of Churches
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