Catholic Church gathering

South Africa gets its first Martyr

On Sunday 13 October, Benedict Daswa was named the country’s first martyr at a beautiful ceremony broadcast live on national television.

He was proclaimed “blessed” in an apostolic letter read on behalf of Pope Francis by Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato to some 30 000 people during mass in Tshitanini village, not far from Daswa’s house in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province.

Daswa was bludgeoned to death by his fellow villagers on 2 February 1990, after he refused to accept the power of witchcraft to stop a spate of lightning strikes in the area that burnt several huts. His murderers were never brought to book owing to a lack of evidence.

A school teacher by profession, Daswa was described as a man who led a holy life, a diligent worker, a good family man and a community leader.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony, along with politicians, traditional leaders and church leaders, including Cardinal Napier. It was such a moving experience seeing the mother of The Blessed Benedict Daswa still alive, and chatting with some of his children after the unveiling.

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