Afrikaans churches plan reconciliation campaign in Soweto

2016-05-05 06:30
Pieter Bezuidenhout (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Pieter Bezuidenhout (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Bloemfontein – A chaplain of the SA National Defence Force in Bloemfontein believes that in order to heal the wounds of the past, more whites need to go back to where it all started and join a reconciliation campaign in Soweto.    

Pieter Bezuidenhout, who belongs to the Apostolic Faith Mission, said three churches would be hosting a special reconciliation prayer event to commemorate the 1976 student uprisings. He encouraged the church's congregants to attend.

Members of the three churches would attend a June 11 event at Orlando Stadium in Soweto using the theme, "Sing a new song".  

On June 16 the church will pray at the Hector Petersen memorial.

"South Africans need to put the past behind without ignoring what happened in 1976. This year marks 40 years since the 1976 incident - and 40 years is a generation. So we are going to Soweto where it all started," Bezuidenhout told News24 on Wednesday.

The churches include the Dutch Reformed church, Hervormde church and the Apostolic Faith Mission.

He said they planned on preaching about reconciliation from June 11 until December 16.

‘We need a change of heart’

"[The] memorial and [the] day symbolises much pain, violence, division, hatred and the disruption of education," he said.

"On the day, we will be talking about healing and hope. We will also confront the past and think about the future. What happened 40 years ago really has a psychological impact on black people and in order for us to reconcile, churches and communities need to communicate."

He said it was worrying that the past still manifested in the present.

"South Africans should put the past behind, acknowledge the pain [and] it shouldn't define our identity. We must help each other heal. The issues that we have as a country are now rubbing off on our children, because they are all unresolved.

"What happened at the University of the Free State and the University of Pretoria this year proves that we need a change of heart and attitude," he said.

He was referring to a small group of students at UFS, led by the SRC president, who embarked on a protest which culminated in a mass brawl at the Varsity Cup rugby match at Shimla Park stadium in February.  

EFF protesters also pulled down and vandalised a statue of Charles Robberts Swart at the university.
Protesters burnt tyres at the foot of the statue, and used hammers and rocks to bring it down.

Meanwhile at the University of Pretoria, students were protesting over its language policy.

"The country needs to transform, because everybody is still carrying pain and we know that it is not going to be solved by one event, but we need to start reconciling. We should confess our brokenness and our past and present mistakes in order to build a healthy future," Bezuidenhout said.   

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  reconciliation  |  religion  |  transformation

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