Religious leaders unite for peace

2019-09-03 06:01
As a crowd of people walked through the streets in prayer, they encouraged residents to join and not just to watch.PHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

As a crowd of people walked through the streets in prayer, they encouraged residents to join and not just to watch.PHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

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Water, incense and prayer were used as a means to cleanse and bring peace in the streets of not only Athlone but the Cape Flats in its entirety. Community organisations and various religious groups came together for the first Cape Flats Interfaith Declaration prayer meeting and peace march on Sunday 25 August.

The prayer began near Athlone stadium with interfaith leaders holding hands, marching for the restoration of peace and an end to violence. There were a few moments in between where the crowd would stop and prayer would resume. Holy water was used as a symbol of peace and cleansing. The crowd proceeded to Joseph Stone Auditorium for a prayer session that included scripture sharing.

The mass peace march and prayer came as a result of community organisations engagements on countless occasions. They realised the need to unite to fight crime. The meetings were facilitated by workers’ union the Service and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (SAWUSA). According to its president, Wilfred Alcock, they realised that the working class, their members, are directly affected by crime. He said they are the ones who are robbed on their way to and from work.

“When the mothers get to work, they are not productive because they are worried about their children – if they are safe where they are,” he explained.

Alcock said they asked themselves, as the union, who they could turn to for solutions to the crime problem. Their response was to go to religious leaders.

“So we are here as different religious organisations to pray for peace in our communities,” he said.

Representing community organisations was Charles George, the chairperson of Delft community police forum (CPF).

He echoed the words of Alcock and added that the event was also about mobilising the residents to do more by acting as a united community.

“We are here uniting against the common enemy called crime. Crime has become a thorn and curse. We are not here to point fingers at government and police to say they are not doing their job,” George explained.

He said crime affects everyone from any walk of life and that is why it is important for people to speak in one voice.

Also present were ward 46 and 49 councillors, Mogamat Cassiem and Rashid Adams. Adams welcomed the gathering. He said he was moved by what he saw, referring to people from different religious organisations coming together. He said he was seeing faces of hope and encouraged the gathering to not tire from the fight of crime.

“Let us make a difference; not just in Athlone but in other areas. We have got to recreate a revolution of our own kind,” he said encouragingly.

To revive the crowd was Allan Boesak, a renowned South African minister of the word and a freedom fighter who worked closely with former South African president, Nelson Mandela, and retired peacemaker, Desmond Tutu.

He delivered a keynote address in the form of a sermon that left the attendees inspired.

His key message was around people who want to please God before they please people that they live with.

He made an example of people who pass beggars by and never offer them any time or help but want to please and praise God.

He also encouraged the masses who united in prayer to never give up on the fight for justice.

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