9 April 2022StatementFrom the desk of the General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) is in despair at the horrific occurrence at Diepsloot Johannesburg, where a human being, Elvis Nyathi, was hunted down like a frightened animal, butchered and reportedly burnt to death. We echo the stern rebuke of SACC President Archbishop Thabo Makgoba who said, “Our ubuntu through your killing is being butchered in Diepsloot and many parts of the country!”
We extend our deepest condolences to the Nyathi family, and hang our heads in collective shame that things have come to this. Only last month we warned that this growing tendency of community groups going on search parties to “smell out” who they consider illegal foreigners will lead to deaths of people as has happened at Diepsloot. In 2015 Emmanuel Sithole was stabbed to death at Alexandra; in 2019 Isaac Sithole was burned alive at Katlehong. Now we have pounced on Elvis Nyathi to meet a horrific death. Is this how we should be known as South Africans, a country that prides itself of the culture of ubuntu-botho? Is the identity of ‘street killers of Africans’ the brand we choose to project for South Africa?
We call on the law enforcement and justice system to bring to book the killers of Elvis Nyathi and ensure that the full might of the law applies; even if it will not restore the life already snuffed out in this orchestrated mob rage.
30 years ago South Africa was caught up in the horror of necklace killings. Many innocent people were killed when just one person pointed to another in public and accused them of being ‘impimpi’, then the crowd would go for that person who would run for dear life, inevitably getting caught and burnt to death. We witnessed this in various parts of the country, and in Cape Town had to develop a system of preventive watchfulness between Nyanga and Crossroads where it was most prevalent. We cannot get back to those dark days of indiscriminate attacks of people. Yet here we are – perilously close to the point of regression into the abyss of our past.
Whatever grievances or opinions anyone may have about non-South Africans of whatever category in our society and economy, there is a way to address those in a structured manner that does not involve mob lynching resulting in death. The SACC has invited everyone with an opinion or view to use the channel created for that by emailing your concerns and proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org.We have already received many opinions with proposed solutions. Next we shall now be engaging with organised societal bodies and with Government ahead of a full plenary of the National Indaba on Non-South Africans in our Society and Economy.
We appeal to all South Africans to remember that we are all human, and there are humane ways of dealing with any concerns. In this case there can be no justification for the criminal killing of another human being simply because he or she is not South African.
As we enter the most Holy Week ahead, of remembering the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, there is a feeling that the pain of the body of Jesus becomes the pain of the body and character of our South Africanness. Let us collectively mount that pain, together with the fear in the eyes and mind of Elvis Nyathi as his killers caught up with him and murdered him; let us focus our collective consciousness on that moment of pain and mount it on the cross of Christ, that the Easter Resurrection may give us a new sense of human consciousness; to rekindle the spirit of ubuntu-bothothat has been butchered with the death of Elvis Nyathi.
—ENDS—Editorial Notes:Email Submissions: email@example.com
Media enquiries:Khuthalani KhumaloSACC Communications ConsultantSouth African Council of ChurchesTel: 084 074 1285 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org