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Benedict Daswa officially declared as martyr in ceremony

Daswa was officially a martyr of the Catholic Church, with the catholic cardinal announcing in a statement.

The Vatican’s Cardinal Angelo Amato officially declared Benedict Daswa as the blessed and a martyr to be recognised by Catholics across the world on 13 September 2015. Picture: Emily Corke/EWN.

THOHOYANDOU - The Vatican's Cardinal Angelo Amato has officially declared Benedict Daswa as the blessed and a martyr to be recognised by Catholics across the world.

Daswa was officially a martyr of the Catholic Church, with the catholic cardinal announcing in a statement at the ceremony.

Amato read out the decree where Daswa was labeled at a layman, a family man and an educator who gave heroic witness of the gospel.

"We grant that the servant of God Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa from now on will be called "Blessed".

Thousands of people converged to witness the occasion and sang hymns in celebration of the first South African martyr.

The ceremony kicked off with a short reading on the impact that Daswa had as a community leasder and as a teacher.

The Blessed Daswa has been described as a man who loved women as equals and one who lived and died for his religion.

He has been described a truly message of Christian faith, a follower of God and man who loved his family.

Amato said Daswa was a an example to many people and to humanity.

Daswa is being honoured for dying for his faith 25 years ago, when he was killed for refusing to take part in an alleged witchcraft ritual.

He is the first South African to be recognised as a martyr in the Catholic Church.

Thousands of people, including deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, have gathered in Tshitanini, near Thohoyandou, in Limpopo, where the service is underway.

Earlier, the presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola said, "South Africa is truly humbled that a South African is being honoured in this manner. The late Mr Daswa will, from henceforth, be known as "Blessed" Daswa. President Zuma we're truly excited at this historic ceremony taking place in our country."

Earlier this year Pope Francis accepted recommendations that Daswa did indeed die a martyr.

Guests of honour included the King of Venda, as well as the premiers of Gauteng and Limpopo.

The Jesuit Institute's Father Russell Pollitt said Daswa was stoned, beaten and burnt to death in Limpopo.

"What happened was they ambushed him and they killed him, a mob of people."

Ramaphosa is scheduled to speak later.

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