Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Marikana shootings, justice and healing

Today I come across two reactions to the Marikana shootings. Both are expressed by church leaders in South Africa. I think they relate to one another although they don’t address the same aspects.

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, has a blog. This week he publishes a letter to the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. In the letter the Archbishop strongly urges the President to make state funded legal representation available to families of those mine workers, who were killed at the Lonmin mines in Marikana in August this year. Apparently the Government is funding the legal representation of the police, who killed mine workers but similar legal support is not being extended to the miners themselves nor to the families of those who lost their lives. It is not often that the Archbishop nowadays writes this kind of appeals to the President. Former Archbishop, Desmond Mpilo Tutu, often did so. It is a good sign. Archbishop Makgoba ends his letter in the same tradition as Tutu used to do:
Please be assured that you remain always in my own prayers, and those of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, that God will bless you with his wisdom and grace to follow his best paths in all you do, so that you might be a blessing to this nation, and to all its people.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town
Another example where the Marikana shootings are commented on comes from Fr Michael Lapsley, also an Anglican Church leader. He is the founder of the Institute for Healing of Memories. In an interview in the Mail and Guardian he is described as a struggle veteran who became a healer. A letter bomb in 1990 shattered both his ear drums, destroyed one eye and blew off both hands. He then discovered his new calling, namely to become a healer of the South African nation. He says that the Marikana shootings is the latest example that South Africa is still a traumatised nation.
We need to find a way of listening to each other and not simply shouting past one another. But that also needs to be coupled with the challenge that the income distribution between rich and poor in South Africa is the most unequal on earth. We need to speak not only about poverty but also about greed.
I hope that many more Church leaders start to voice their critique. To me it brings hope. Do we hear a voice like this in Sweden? Well, it happens that our own Archbishop, Anders Wejryd, writes letters to our Prime Minister. Last year he critisised the Swedish Government for voting against the Palestinian application to join United Nations' cultural organisation UNESCO. He also strongly opposed Sweden’s arms export in an article in Dagens Nyheter last year. But when does he critisise the Government for injustices in the Swedish society?

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