The statement also notes that violence in many cases has been sparked by recent court decisions related to former president Jacob Zuma.
The right to protest must be exercised with responsibility, the statement notes. “What do we see?” the statement asks. “We learn that many of the trucks that were destroyed at Mooi River, are owned by black entrepreneurs who have now lost everything and all the livelihoods that depend on that industry will go to destitution and may not be able to get out of debt.”
The message urgently appeals for an end to the violent protests spilling into criminal acts of wanton vandalism and looting that should not be sustained in a constitutional democracy. “The destruction we are witnessing will have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts,” continues the message. “It is a state of civil anarchy and mayhem that cannot and should not be tolerated.”
The message also commends the police for their restraint in handling the vandalism under extreme provocation and physical threats. “As policing is totally overwhelmed and the military step in to curb the destruction, we may yet again face a different challenge of the potential militarisation of our society with regrettable outcomes,” the statement reads. “We must reverse this and stay at home!”
Rev. Frank Chikane, moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, said that the constitutional democracy in South Africa has been put to a test in the last few months. “There are also those who abused their positions of authority to loot the resources of the state to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor,” he said. “They also acted outside the law and the constitution.”
The criminal violence South Africa is experiencing was triggered by those who want to destabilize the country to ensure that they do not go to jail for their malfeasance and acts of criminality, Chikane added. “Unfortunately they have opportunistically taken advantage of the levels of unemployment (especially of the youth) and poverty to achieve this objective,” he said. “The churches together with civil society entities are doing whatever they can to intervene in this situation.”
Chikane called on the global ecumenical fellowship to join in prayer for the leadership of the country to find solutions to the crisis. “Pray with us to pass this test of our constitutional democracy to secure the future of the country,” he said. “At the end, the challenge will remain that of transforming the economy in a way that will better the conditions of lives of the poor and unemployed to ensure that no one can ever take advantage of them."