Ramaphosa to attend Benedict Daswa's beatification

Cyril Ramaphosa will represent the presidency at the mass, which has described as a significant moment.

FILE: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will join more than 30,000 people in Tshitanini near Thohoyandou in Limpopo for the beatification of the late Benedict Daswa.

Ramaphosa will represent the presidency at the mass, which has described the beatification as a significant moment for South Africa and the continent as a whole.

Daswa will be the first South African to be declared a holy model for the universal church by the Vatican.

Daswa will be honoured for dying for his faith and beliefs in 1990, when he was stoned, beaten and burnt to death by an angry mob for refusing to take part in alleged witchcraft.

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."

Daswa will be declared martyr during a beatification mass service, for dying for his faith and beliefs in February 1990.

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

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

Celebrations have continued from last night, where thousands spent the evening in prayer.

Spokesperson for Southern African Catholic Bishop Conference Archbishop William Slattery said the is moves

"And so all over the world people will know now of Benedict Daswa as a model of the gospel. Someone who followed Christ and gave his life out of love for his friends."

Daswa was murdered in February of 1990, just nine days before the late Nelson Mandela was released from jail, for refusing to pay money to take part in witchcraft.

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."

The official beatification process was written by Pope Francis himself and his representative from Rome will officiate the ceremony this morning.

Pollitt said this is a significant mass for South Africa.

"He's the first martyr for South Africa. In fact the first person who has been in anyway recognised by the Vatican as a holy person in South Africa."

(Efited by Leeto M Khoza)