In a special Ad Clerum (letter to the diocese) issued last week, the Right Reverend Ebenezer Ntlali, stated that the Diocese of Grahamstown totally rejects such behaviour, as it is against everything Christians are called to be. The Bishop called on all parishes in the Anglican diocese to pause during church services last Sunday, to focus on God’s commandment to love; to remember all people who have died through senseless acts of violence; to pray for their families and loved ones who mourn and suffer; and to pray for God’s peace and love in our communities.
These horrendously inhuman acts of rape and violence against women and children, as well as the violence against foreign members of our communities, with the looting of their shops, are shocking. They are violations of God’s Code of Conduct, the Ten Commandments, in which we are given clear instructions of how to live with each other.
Jesus summarised these commandments in teaching that it is all about love. We need to live in love towards one another and towards all creation. We cannot say that we love God and yet we kidnap, hurt, rape or murder our fellow citizens, neighbours and members of our communities.
We remember with love and compassion Uyinene Mrwetyana, Amy Leigh Jegels, Jesse Hess, the four Mpungose children killed by their father, and all who have died violently at the hands of others. We remember shop owners who have been attacked and whose shops were looted. We remember those hurt and killed during these incidences of violence.
We all need to return to God anew. This behaviour is unacceptable. As we stand in love with the affected families, friends and colleagues; we appeal to all members of our dear country to be more aware of the compassion of God. We believe that God was present for all those who died and God is present for loved ones to bring comfort. God is able to cope with our sadness and pain, as well as our anxiety, fear and anger. Christ brought freedom from all bondages and therefore we cannot allow ourselves to be kept prisoner but we need to rise above and hold on to the Prince of Peace, who will lead us to the society we know we can be.
We call specifically on male members of our society not only to condemn and dissociate ourselves from such conduct but to actively be involved in concrete and practical ways in reversing this shameful phenomenon and create a conducive environment where the safety of all people can be assured at all times.
As we journey forward, let us we continue to honour God with every breath, thought and action – let us spread peace and share love.
The Right Reverend Ebenezer Ntlali is the Bishop of Grahamstown