Archbishop Abel Gabuza and Soweto’s Father Tom Segami succumb to Covid-19 complications
By Gunther Simmermacher
Johannesburg - It was ironically only in August last year that Archbishop Abel Gabuza wrote a reflection on the coronavirus pandemic.
“The call for us today in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is to continue the journey of staying spiritually healthy,” he wrote.
On Sunday, however, Covid-19 claimed the life of the coadjutor archbishop of Durban since December 2018, and former bishop of Kimberley. He was 65.
Born one of six children on March 23, 1955, in Alexandra, Joburg, Gabuza would always highlight the role of his parents in his life.
In the early 2000s, then-Father Gabuza was one of the leading forces in the African Catholic Priests’ Solidarity Movement. In the 2010s, Gabuza served two terms as chair of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, a position in which he made many forthright statements on matters as diverse as corruption and the tragic deaths of pupils in latrines.
He was outspoken on the sexual abuse crisis, warning African church leaders not to write off the crisis as a “Western problem”.
As coadjutor of Durban for two years, Archbishop Gabuza’s role was described as running the archdiocese alongside Cardinal Wilfrid Napier. He was to succeed the cardinal, who will turn 80 in March this year.
Gabuza is survived by his sister Hildegard.
Another religious leader, Father Tom Segami OMI (PhD) who was a parish priest of St Peter Claver Catholic Church in Pimville, Soweto, died on Sunday morning.
Segami was hospitalized with Covid-19 two weeks ago. Although he later recovered from the virus, his health deteriorated over time.
Born in Kuruman, Northern Cape 54 years ago, Father Segami’s family was not Catholic. He converted later when he was in his teens.
He took his first vows as an Oblate in January 1989, his perpetual vows in October 1993 and was ordained a priest in December 1996.
He served in several parishes as a deacon and then as priest in Itsoseng, Jagersfontein, Free State, St Mary's in Mahikeng, Kreste Modisa in Mmabatho as well as Sacred Heart in Kathlehong.
Father Segami, who was the Superior of the Soweto OMI District community, was a Pre-novitiate Director for 10 years from 2001 to 2010.
At the time of his death, he had graduated with a PhD in Christian Spirituality in 2019.
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