Church leaders call for reconciliation ahead of June 16 anniversary
The South African Council of Churches has urged South Africans to reconcile and make peace ahead of the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto student uprising.
The organisation held a healing and reconciliation event on Saturday at the Orlando stadium‚ which is the same venue thousands of students from schools around Soweto townships were going to have a mass peaceful rally when they were shot at by the apartheid police and some killed or wounded on June 16‚ 1976.
“This is the time when the likes of our political leaders should be saying heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values and fundamental human rights‚ ” SACC’s bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said.
He added that: “We are instead tearing each other apart and having racist attitudes.. we also have an ethnic or tribalist mentalities.”
Mpumlwana said as church leaders‚ their duty was to bring peace and help people reconcile and move on to build better societies.
The event was preceded by a walk from Madibane High school to the stadium to symbolise the walk taken by the youth 40 years ago.
City of Joburg Mayor Parks Tau was part of the walk and unveiled the Abbey Lebelo plaque at Madibane High commemoration.
Tau said the city together with religious leaders will open communication lines between different race groups to start the reconciliation process.
“This is the beginning of the process. Religious leaders have said that they would like to go back in white communities to confront the issues directly to say ‘this is our past this is our history but we have a task to work towards building a common future’‚” Tau said.
The event was also attended by some of the students of the class of 1976‚ defence veterans‚ and music legend Sipho Hotstix Mabuse.