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WATCH: Religious leaders head Black Lives Matter protest at St George's Cathedral

Published Jun 8, 2020

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Cape Town – In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter global movement (BLM), Cape Town religious leaders gathered in front of St George's Cathedral for a silent protest yesterday.

This was to remember those who had died at the hands of law enforcement officers during lockdown in South Africa and abroad.

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In front of the cathedral, religious leaders carried placards and flowers.

The bell was rung nine times in honour of those who have lost their lives, including Alexandra resident Collins Khosa and American George Floyd, who died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck during an arrest. Chauvin and three others have since been charged over Floyd's murder.

Locally, unnamed SANDF officers were accused of assaulting Khosa for

allegedly breaking lockdown regulations. He later succumbed to his injuries.

In a statement at the weekend, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula said a criminal investigation by the SAPS was still ongoing.

She assigned to the Military Ombud the task of conducting further investigations into the complaint regarding the Khosa incident.

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“It is envisaged that the Military Ombud will conduct and conclude investigations in this regard and report within a period of 8 weeks. For these reasons, there is not yet a final word on the Khosa incident and any culpability that might be established for his death,” she said.

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba delivered a message on behalf of other church leaders yesterday, saying they were shocked at how the SANDF, with the most "rudimentary, inadequate reasoning imaginable", had exonerated its soldiers of any culpability in Khosa’s death, and at the repudiation of their minister's statement that the matter had not been finalised.

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pleas to the police and military that the lockdown should not be a time for “skiet en donder”, had fallen on deaf ears.

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“We are gathered here because Black Lives Matter, whether in South Africa, the United States, France, Australia or elsewhere.

“Our prayers here today have been for Collins Khosa and all those

he represents in South Africa who have been killed by forces deployed by

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the state to enforce lockdown regulations.

“They have been for George Floyd and all those he represents in the US, for Adama Traore and all those he represents in France, and for David Dungay, an indigenous Australian who died saying “I can’t breathe”, and all those he represented.

“We are here because we are tired, sick to death and exhausted at the seemingly never-ending struggle that people of colour still face, well into the 21st century, 50 years after the American civil rights struggle, 25 years after the end of political apartheid, to be treated equally by arms of the state. 

"We are here because we protest against the wanton, unnecessary use of violence by police and soldiers who break the laws they are entrusted to uphold and assault protesters of whatever race who declare that Black Lives Matter,” said Makgoba.

“We are shocked at the blatant disrespect for law and order shown by members of the Buffalo, New York police squad, 57 of whom resigned from their unit, not because two of their number assaulted a 75-year-old man, inflicting head injuries, but because the two were suspended.”

Cape Times

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