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SA holds vigils for kidnapped schoolgirls

Silent vigils have been held for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.

Cape Town residents hold a vigil for the missing Nigerian school girls outside St George’s Cathedral on 16 May 2014. Picture: Graeme Raubenheimer/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Silent vigils have been held in Johannesburg and Cape Town today in solidarity with the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted last month.

The mass abduction of the girls has sparked global outrage, with many criticising the Nigerian government's initial response to the plight of the girls. US officials this week said the government had done too little to adapt to the threat posed by Boko Haram.

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba led a 40-minute vigil outside St George's Cathedral earlier on Friday.

Makgoba said he was angered by the abductions.

"As parents we are pained. As religious fathers and mothers we are pained. What in our unity, what in our common values, can we perhaps throw out there that would speak to Boko Haram and ensure the safe release of our girls."

At the same time, the Commission for Gender Equality says it hopes its silent protest outside the Nigerian Consulate in Illovo in Johannesburg will help draw attention to the scourge of gender-based violence on the continent.

The commission protested silently for an hour on Rivonia Road in Northern Johannesburg in solidarity with the schoolgirls.

Scores of activists stood outside holding placards that read 'The Commission for Gender Equality supports the bring back our girls campaign'.

Chairperson of the commission Mfanozelwe Shozi said the silent protest was in solidarity with the Nigerian government following the cancellation of President Goodluck Jonathan's trip to Chibok, the village from which the girls were abducted, over security fears.

"We also hope the Nigerian government has heard what the world is saying about this and they are going to actually roll up their sleeves to find these girls."

Some motorists hooted as they drove past while others waved in support.

Jonathan will instead fly directly from the capital Abuja to Paris on Friday for a regional summit to discuss the Boko Haram insurgency and wider insecurity and will not now make a stop in the northeastern village of Chibok.

Jonathan asked France last week to arrange a security summit with neighbours Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, and officials from the United States, Britain and the European Union to discuss a coordinated response.

The summit will take place on Saturday.