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Beatification of teacher killed by mob inspiration to world – Zuma

The beatification of a Limpopo high school principal killed by a mob will restore his dignity and inspire people all over the world to do good at all times even under extremely difficult situations‚ President Jacob Zuma said in a message on Sunday.

A beatification ceremony for Benedict Tshimangadzo Daswa‚ who was killed by a mob in February 1990 for refusing to abandon his Christian beliefs and to fund anti-Catholic superstitions‚ was held on Sunday in the Tshitanini village near Thohoyandou in Venda in Limpopo province.

Daswa was declared a martyr this year‚ paving the way for his beatification.

Zuma noted that he was the first ever South African to be referred to as “blessed”.

“This is a significant moment for our country and indeed the African continent as a whole. Such ceremonies are extremely rare in the history of the Catholic Church. This is the first ever beatification in Southern Africa. We are truly humbled that a South African is being honoured in this manner‚” Zuma stated.

Daswa was born on the 16th June 1946 in Mbahe‚ 20km from Thohoyandou‚ the firstborn son of the late Tshililo Petrus Daswa (Bakali) and his wife Thidziambi Ida DASWA (Gundula) who is still alive. He was named “Tshimangadzo” (one with miracles) and Samuel when he went to school.

Zuma said the church had described Daswa as a man who led a holy life‚ a diligent worker‚ a good family man‚ an industrious educator‚ an active layman‚ an avid sportsman‚ an involved community leader‚ a man of charity and‚ above all‚ a person of deep prayer and spirituality.

“Mr Daswa was beaten‚ stoned and burnt to death for his beliefs on the 2nd February 1990‚ the very date on which Mr FW de Klerk announced the release of President Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of political organisations.

“The Beatification service will restore the dignity of Mr Daswa and inspire people all over the world to do good at all times even under extremely difficult situations‚” Zuma added.

He said Daswa had lost his life because he believed in human rights and dignity and did not support the persecution of fellow villagers on allegations of witchcraft.

“Many people‚ especially elderly women‚ have lost their lives due to accusations of witchcraft in some communities. Such practices have no place in our country and we are happy that this is not widespread. May this ceremony remind all of the need to unite in fighting this dangerous practice of stigmatising and condemning innocent people‚ especially women‚ due to gossip and innuendo‚” Zuma added.

The beatification mass was be led by Cardinal Angelo Amato‚ the Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints based in Rome‚ who also represented Pope Francis.

The South African government was represented at the ceremony by Deputy President Cyril Rampaphosa‚ who was invited by the Bishop of the Tzaneen Diocese of the Catholic Church of South Africa‚ Bishop Joao Rodrigues‚ to address the ceremony.