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Living in fear: Archbishop Makgoba condemns scapegoating of migrants, GBV, gangsterism

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. File image
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. File image
Image: Esa Alexander

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has spoken out in his Easter sermon against vigilante attacks on foreigners, condemning those who “scapegoated” migrants and abused the rule of law.

Preaching at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town, he characterised the endemic violence and poverty in SA as a “darkness.”

When we dismiss the pain and the struggles of those consigned to the margins ... we demean ourselves. 

“It is a dark time for those whose lives are devastated by domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

“Darkness distorts the lives of children who go to bed hungry and people who sleep in the streets of this city. Our nation is a dark space for the poor who have been robbed by corrupt officials.

“It is dark days for those who live in fear of the gangs which haunt the streets and suck young people into spirals of violence, and for learners in Gauteng and other parts of the country who are lured into eating so-called 'space cakes', which are stuffed with potentially addictive drugs.

“We amplify darkness when we scapegoat migrants and abuse the rule of law to deal with them in a vigilante fashion.”

The archbishop also condemned what he called the “naked aggression” of the world's great powers, “whether it is the US and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan or Russia in Ukraine”.

He said the darkness had to be confronted.

“It may be difficult to speak about contemporary elements of darkness, but we must talk ... When we dismiss the testimonies of others, the pain and the struggles of those consigned to the margins, when we undermine and destroy women, survivors, migrants, and the poor who long for opportunities and justice, we don't only diminish them. We confine ourselves to the darkness of the tomb and stop the dawn from breaking; we demean ourselves.”

There are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions, he cautioned. “This prevents us from the tendency to engage in groupthink, to coalesce around our social or economic group’s experience, our way of doing things, our spirituality, our dogmatic emphasis, origins, race or class. To allow this to happen ultimately leads to us developing practices of exclusion, chauvinism and the kind of populism that is so damaging to the quest for social cohesion and the flourishing of all.

“In a country and a world where there is an increasing trust deficit between different people and groups, we need to guard against creating more distrust in the name of our limited privileges.”


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