Ramaphosa: Daswa’s beatification is an honour for SA

Benedict Daswa has been honoured for dying for his faith in 1990 when he refused to take part in witchcraft.

FILE: South African deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.

TSHITANINI - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa's first beatification of the blessed Benedict Daswa is a special honour for this country, extending his congratulations to the Daswa family.

Vatican representative cardinal Angela Amato officiated the beatification this morning at Tshitanini near Thohoyandou in Limpopo, declaring the late Daswa as a martyr.

The head teacher has been honoured for dying for his faith 25 years ago when he refused to take part in paying for a witchdoctor.

He is the first South African Catholic to be referred to as blessed and will be recognised as a mentor of the gospel to Catholics around the world.

The deputy president has remembered the blessed Daswa as a fearless man, a loving father and son and an inspiration to South Africa.

He says it's an honor for him to attend the beatification today, describing it as a day of both celebration and sadness.

Ramaphosa says this day should also show that ritual killings and witch hunts must come to an end in a peaceful country like South Africa.

After a two hour long mass and sermon, the crowds took their communion and have started making their way back home.

#Daswa The celebrations continue. Messages from dignitaries including the Deputy President are set to begin soon. EC pic.twitter.com/r71Z07N4yz

#Daswa The cardinal sits with his colleagues on stage as the mass continues. EC pic.twitter.com/CwUASzociU

#Daswa The Cardinal was accepted by thousands of his followers, who he blessed as he made his way onto stage. EC pic.twitter.com/XrqCxj5f9z

Amato read out the decree where Daswa was labeled as 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".

Earlier today, 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 said we're truly excited at this historic ceremony taking place in our country."

In 1990 Daswa was stoned, beaten and burnt to death in Limpopo for refusing to contribute to paying a witch doctor that would explain who was responsible for the heavy lightning experienced the previous night.

And it's this act that earned him the title of first martyr to be beatified in Southern Africa, 25 years later.

In both his private and public life Daswa took a strong stand in his faith, insisting on rejecting cultural practices that were not aligned to his religious beliefs.

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