Zuma says beatification of Daswa significant for SA

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

President Jacob Zuma delivered an update on several initiatives and programmes announced in his State of the Nation address at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 11 August 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has described the beatification of Benedict Daswa as a significant moment for South Africa and the continent as a whole.

Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola says it is an honor for South Africa to host such an important event.

"Who shall be the first ever South African to be referred as "Blessed". Now this is significant moment for our country and indeed the African continent as a whole because such ceremonies are extremely rare in the history of the catholic."

More than 30,000 people are today expected to converge on Tshitanini village near Thohoyandou in Limpopo for the beatification of the first South African born martyr, declared by Pope Francis himself.

Benedict 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.

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

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."