Gang threatens bishop at Pretoria home

2011-03-17 17:07

Johannesburg - Five men armed with guns threatened to kill SA Council of Churches president Bishop Jo Seoka and his wife at their home in Pretoria this week.

"On Tuesday morning, 15 March 2011, five men armed with guns arrived at Bishop Seoka’s Pretoria home, declaring their intention to kill the bishop and his wife," the SACC said on Thursday.

"The bishop and his wife were not at home at the time, but the intruders returned later in the day looking for them."

The men "made remarks" that suggested that they were watching the movements of the bishop and his wife, the SACC said.

Warned to leave house

"Yesterday (Wednesday), two different people telephoned the bishop’s home enquiring from those present about [his] whereabouts. The callers reiterated their threats against the bishop and left a message that he should pack and leave the house.

"Although the bishop remains calm and spiritually strong, Bishop Seoka’s colleagues in the ecumenical movement are extremely concerned about these threats, which have understandably caused members of his family a great deal of anxiety. "

Seoka was hosting a meeting of the SACC’s international ecumenical partners at the time of the attack.

The SACC had no information about a motive for the threats.

Opponent of corruption

"Bishop Seoka, who is the Anglican Bishop of Pretoria, has long been an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice and a courageous opponent of corruption and unethical business practices in his capacity as a leader of the ecumenical movement," the SACC said.

"Furthermore, we cannot take these threats lightly because we know that clergy are often vulnerable.

"We have been shocked and saddened by past incidents in which clergy and church leaders have been murdered."

The Gauteng Police Commissioner had been notified about the threats and security for the bishop and his family had been enhanced.

"The SACC will not allow threats such as these to deter us from pursuing our calling to fulfil the gospel imperatives to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalised and to provide moral leadership to the nation," the SACC said.