Ramaphosa calls for national day of prayer ahead of lockdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a national day of prayer on the eve of the 21-day national lockdown which is set to begin at midnight on Thursday.

He has invited South Africans to observe two minutes of prayer, reflection or silent meditation on Thursday between 18:00 and 18:30.

"These are challenging times. We are traversing a path we have never travelled before. There are many among us who are fearful, uncertain and vulnerable.

"I call on our people to offer a prayer and a thought for the protection and healing of our land and its people from this disease," Ramaphosa said.

He added this was a moment for South Africans to act together in solidarity with those affected by Covid-19 around the world.

"Over the past two weeks, South Africans from all walks of life have demonstrated their resilience by complying with the restrictions that have been placed on their lives.

"Because we are in a state of national lockdown, our prayers must be offered from our hearts and in our homes."

The day of prayer follows a proposal made by religious leaders who met with Ramaphosa last week.

Similar events have been held in the US, UK, the Philippines, Kenya, Mexico and Italy.

"The international occurrence of the coronavirus pandemic has affirmed yet again that the challenge we face is a global one and one we cannot overcome alone.

"I call on all our people, whether they are religious or not, wherever they are, on Thursday, 26 March to observe a moment of silence in a show of social solidarity," he said, adding the nation's thoughts should be with those in hospital, quarantine or self-isolation.

"In observing this national day of prayer, we also want to send a message of hope to our brave and patriotic healthcare workers who are on the frontline and helping to save lives, with our emergency personnel, police, traffic officers and military, and with all those who are working tirelessly to keep us safe, healthy and alive," Ramaphosa said.

"The coming weeks will sorely test our resolve and patience. For millions of South Africans for whom faith is a source of hope and courage, this difficult time must strengthen and unite us as never before."

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