On Tuesday 26 April 2022 the President of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, together with other representatives of the National Religious Forum that has been collaborating for over two years on COVID-19 combat, will conduct a Walk of Witness and joint prayer at some of the flood-affected areas of KwaZulu Natal (KZN).
The religious leaders are also calling for a nationwide moment of prayer by all South Africans wishing to lift these challenges in prayer, wherever they may be – in their workplaces, at home, in their various modes of transportation, to observe a moment’s prayer according to their tradition and faith, using the 15-minutes between 14h00 and 14h15, for a collective nationwide prayer event.
The leaders delegations will use that time to pray with the communities they are visiting. “We would hope that the KZN, Western Cape and Eastern Cape Provincial Governments, as well as national departments of government, especially those seized with addressing the flood disasters that have visited the provinces of KZN and Eastern Cape; and the Western Cape in the form of the devastating fire, would take part in this moment of prayer as they see fit to,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the SACC.
The religious organisations involved in the Religious Forum include: the South African Hindu Maha Sabha; the Union of Orthodox Synagogues; the Council of Muslim Theologians (Jamiatul Ulama); the Nazareth Baptist Church (Ibandla lamaNazaretha); the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; the Bantu Church of Christ; the Council of African Independent Churches; The Evangelical Alliance; the International Fellowship of Christian Churches; and the South African Council of Churches (SACC), which currently chairs the Religious Forum through General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.
The KZN chapter of the SACC, KwaZulu Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) is the facilitating organisation for this day, where a representative delegation of the Religious Forum will make the Walk of Witness in four groups going to four selected areas. “The Walk of Witness is being undertaken by a broad spectrum of inter-faith religious leaders, working together to emphasise the presence of God at this time of loss and despair in KZN,” said Bishop Malusi.
“It is our intention – through our collective presence – to demonstrate the love of God to all those who need to feel it, walking together through the communities that have been hardest hit by the floods,” he said.
The purpose of this trip is to:
- Assess progress in their situation and address those critical matters that we know are in need – especially water & sanitation.
- Offer solidarity and pastoral care, counselling and necessary support as requested by the affected communities.
- Listen to affected families and individuals and identify new gaps and seek solutions together with the affected communities, and establish, especially the plight of children, the pregnant and the most vulnerable for special attention.
- Identify areas of advocacy, collaboration, and partnership with other stakeholders.
- Pray with the affected communities.
“There are many reports of people saying they are not getting attention and support. We appeal to all affected communities to approach their nearest religious centre, and report their plight, and we shall, through the Pietermaritzburg office of the KZNCC, ensure liaison with the appropriate offices for attention. We all work together on an interfaith and interdenominational basis, regardless of what church or faith community people belong to, or no faith at all.”
The four areas to be visited for this Walk of Witness are listed below, having been selected because church leaders have visited them before at least more than twice:
uMlazi (South of Durban):
- Ntuzuma, Inanda, Phoenix, Verulam (North of Durban). (It is worth noting that these are the areas that were racially divided by the July 2021 unrest, and that have now come together in the pain of this moment, a collaboration that builds on the interfaith healing ministry of the religious leaders on the ground).
- uMzinto, Hibberdene (near Port Shepstone)
- Umgungundlovu (Pietermaritzburg), Hopewell, Sweetwaters and Henley Dam areas
The Walk of Witness and the Nationwide Prayer will be streamed live on Facebook and will be prepared also for media houses as news clips.