South African Council of Churches general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.
South African Council of Churches general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.

SA Council of Churches recommends amnesty to allow looters to return stolen items

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jul 15, 2021

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The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has recommended that recovered state capture funds be used by national Treasury to help support small businesses that were impacted by the widespread violence and looting.

The council held a media briefing on Thursday, where it outlined various social and economic measures that could be implemented by the government to aid in the country's recovery.

Widespread looting took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week, which saw businesses damaged.

SACC general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said the violence had to stop. He decried the loss of life, with over 70 people being killed in incidents linked to the violence.

The SACC said it was worried about the impact the looting will have on people's livelihoods and small businesses in areas such as Alexandra and Soweto.

Mpumlwana said despite people's assurances that the incidents witnessed this past week were not a true reflection of the country, he said they were.

Accountability had to be restored, Mpumlwana said. The SACC has written to the government, providing solutions to counter the economic impact of the unrest.

The first is a call for amnesty for looters. Mpumlwana said churches should encourage people who have looted goods to return the stolen items to police stations.

The SACC said the government and SAPS should give citizens two weeks to return stolen items without the consequences of being charged.

Mpumlwana said the returned goods should be donated to those in need.

Another recommendation is for the creation of an economic restoration fund. The fund would help fund small businesses that have been damaged and looted. Mpumlwana said the SACC recommends that the funding for the fund should be drawn from recouped state capture funds.

He described it as possible poetic justice, saying the sin of state capture could help to right another injustice.

The government has not yet responded to the SACC’s letter.

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