Anti-witchcraft Catholic to become saint

THE Roman Catholic Church in Thohoyandou has moved swiftly in a bid to declare a local man killed 20 years ago South Africa's first saint.

THE Roman Catholic Church in Thohoyandou has moved swiftly in a bid to declare a local man killed 20 years ago South Africa's first saint.

The church has completed an inquiry into the life and death of Benedict Daswa.

Daswa died while fighting against the burning of community members accused of witchcraft at Mbahe village near Thohoyandou in Limpopo.

A statement released by the Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference (SACBC) said Daswa was stoned and bludgeoned to death in 1990, when the then Venda homeland was plagued by the burning of people accused of witchcraft.

SACBC spokesperson Father Chris Townsend said the inquiry had been concluded.

Townsend said more than 850 pages of testimonies of reliable witnesses to the life and death of the "Servant of God" were to be taken to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

Local people at Mbahe and neighbouring villages have described Daswa as a person who stood up like the biblical Stephen, who fought and died for what he believed in.

Daswa believed that witchcraft was against the teachings of the Catholic faith.

Sowetan heard that Daswa was killed because of his refusal to contribute to funds to help purge witches.

Townsend said testimonies gathered indicated that Daswa led a holy life and became a genuine martyr of the faith.

"The next stage will be to prepare prayer cards and a novena to enable people to pray for favours through the intercession of the Servant of God," said Townsend.

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