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KwaZulu-Natal - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has raised sharp questions about the decline of moral standards in the country, saying he is appalled by cases of innocent orphans being stoned to death or children being raped.
Delivering a moving tribute at the funeral of church leader, freedom fighter and community leader the Reverend Khoza Mgojo in Port Shepstone on Tuesday, Tutu painted a gloomy picture of a society in which morals had undergone a frightening decline and a nation tearing itself apart.
He suggested it was difficult to convince the world that apartheid was over in SA, but assured President Jacob Zuma, with whom he shared a platform at the service, that he was not attacking anyone and that he still needed to have a meeting with him.
Tutu was almost in tears as he spoke about things that had gone terribly wrong in SA.
“When we voted in 1994, it was so peaceful and we thought we had crossed river Jordan to the Promised Land. What has happened to us and what do we think of our police force?
“How do we explain to people who want us to prosper that our police shot and killed our own people? What has happened to us?” he said, breaking into an anti-apartheid song Senzeni na? (What have we done?)
“What has happened to us when a grown-up man rapes a child? What has happened to us that three orphans were stoned to death? What have we done? God, tell us. We thought you had given us freedom. What have we done? Every day we see different forms of violence. We see people protesting and demonstrating,” he said.
The funeral provided a rare occasion on which Tutu and Zuma shared a platform following years of sharp differences between them.
Last October, Tutu said Zuma was not his president and that he was going to pray for the “downfall of the ANC government”.
That was after the government declined to issue a visa to the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Zuma agreed with Tutu, although he added it was not enough to ask what had happened.
“Archbishop Tutu’s concerns are pertinent and fundamental. What has happened to us as people? This is a challenge to all of us. What we should do is go beyond asking the question. I think we should do something because we are all concerned that killing has become so easy.”
For police to shoot and kill people and for the people to protest with pangas and spears meant there was a problem.
“We need a gathering for us all to ask the question on what has happened to us, particularly the Africans,” said Zuma.
Rather than the fact that crime had risen so much in SA compared with other countries, what was of concern was the violent nature of the crimes.
“In other countries people steal and leave, but in South Africa people steal and wait for you, to kill you.”
Zuma said to Tutu: “I want to make an appointment for us to meet. I think we need to sit down and work out a national approach to this problem… we still need a strong voice from the church.” - The Mercury