Benedict Daswa - A mentor for the gospel
A Vatican Cardinal officially declared Benedict Daswa a martyr for the Universal Catholic Church.
JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says the Blessed Benedict Daswa's life and death should serve as a reminder to South Africans to oppose ritual killings and witchcraft.
Yesterday, a representative from the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Amato, officially declared Daswa a martyr for the Universal Catholic Church.
Thousands of people gathered in Tsitanini near Thohoyandou in Limpopo for the mass which Ramaphosa described as a special honour for South Africa.
"Today we remember Blessed Tshimangadzo Benedict Daswa as a man who led a holy life not in isolation of the social realities around him," Amato said.
Ramaphosa says Blessed Benedict is a true South African who stood strong for his beliefs even though he paid the ultimate price.
Daswa was stoned, burned and beaten to death after he refused to take part in witchcraft in the local community.
Ramaphosa says it's tragic that he died on 2 February 25 years ago, the same day it was announced that Nelson Mandela would be released from prison.
"On the day that he was killed, South Africa was witnessing a new birth, new beginnings."
He says Daswa is a reminder that South Africans must unite and say no to ritual killings and no to xenophobia in a democratic country.
Africa is now one step closer to having its first saint, to be recognised worldwide as a mentor of the gospel.
The process of sainthood now requires two miracles before the Vatican can consider the next step.
President of the South African Catholic Bishop's Conference (SACBC) Stephen Brislin says the church is grateful that Pope Francis himself granted their request for the beatification.
"As the Church of Southern Africa, we are deeply grateful to his holiness Pope Francis for granting our request for this beatification and for delegating Cardinal Amato to be with us today."
Daswa has been described as a role model, an educator, a loving father and son and a man who lived and died for his belief.
The SACBC says South Africans will look to Daswa as an exemplary role model who lived a non-corrupt life.
Brislin said Daswa's life should serve as a reminder of the value of education in South Africa. "As an educator of young people he inspires us to value the education of our children not only in the different school subjects but also in human and moral formation."
Picture: Emily Corke/EWN