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UNITED CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF SOUTHERN AFRICA

P. O. Box 96014
Brixton 2019
Johannesburg
South Africa
Tel: +27 11 837 9997
rd
3 Fax:
April +27
201411 837 2570

150 Caroline Street


Brixton 2092
Johannesburg
South Africa
E-mail: gensec@uccsa.co.za
Website: www.uccsa.co.za

17 April 2015

UCCSA Statement on Afrophobia/Xenophobia


The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa condemns in the strongest terms possible,
the recent attacks on black non- South Africans. As a church which ministers in five countries in
Southern Africa, we feel the pain of our brothers and sisters to whom we are related, in the deaths
and displacement of their relatives in a country which they admired for the miracle in 1994. We
believe in the Christ promise of fullness of life for all, the all has no distinctions or qualifications
it means all of Gods creation!
While welcoming the governments response to debate the issue in parliament this week,
condemnatory statements by the ANC, COSATU and the SACP, we regret that the response is too
little and too late: When the first attacks occurred in Johannesburg in 2008, the then President,
Thabo Mbeki asserted that we must continue to manage the reality of unfulfilled expectations.
Seven years later the issues for those who live in abject poverty still remain. Greg Nicholson has
named them and we echo his view they are job creation, skills development, hunger, service
delivery, corruption, widespread poverty while a minority remains obscenely rich.
In places of such social deprivation, here in South Africa, as in other parts of the world, the
scapegoating of the other in our midst becomes the easy way out, even if the other is not
responsible for our misery. In South Africa such scapegoating has found expression in extreme
Afrophobia, the killing and displacement of the stranger in our midst. Most people in Government,
who were in exile in North Atlantic countries will have been at the receiving end of such racial
discrimination, as the graffiti in the UK shouted out loud: Wogs go home! Could we not have
brought the learning from that experience home with us? And when we first saw the signs in 2008
could we not have acted more swiftly in the knowledge that competition for limited resources
(jobs, housing, a decent meal) leads to such displaced victimisation?
Racism is still alive and kicking in the so-called rainbow nation and the storm still rages! Given the
systemic nature of racism and the ideology of superiority which underpins and sustains it, both
during Apartheid and now, it feeds a pecking order, hierarchies between different ethnic groups in
South Africa with the Tsonga, Venda and Shangaan at the bottom of the ladder. But then came
people from North of the Limpopo and Zambezi, and irrational though it may be, the poor and
marginalised in South Africa are not too eager to share the land of milk and honey with them,
especially if it is already, for them , in short supply! So a lower rank of the ladder is quickly
introduced.

So the Presidents statement that these are our brothers and sisters who provided shelter and
assistance for us in exile will be cold comfort for the poor who were not in exile, suffered under
Apartheid and thought it will be a better life for all post 1994, but by and large it has not been for
them; only for a fortunate few.
So, a peace bus from Gauteng to KZN to provide solidarity to the more than 2000 displaced from
their homes is a laudable gesture of support especially with basic necessities through Gift of the
Givers. But for Government and Church alike, the questions remain: Why the need to flee from
their homes in an area of abject poverty? We cannot every time only pick up the pieces. It is time
to consistently and urgently address the root causes which feed this Afrophobia!
The UCCSA wishes to:
Express its deepest sympathy and sense of shame to the families of those who died in this
irrational violence
Call upon all its leadership, ministers and local churches to engage with government at
every level to address the underlying social issues which is at the root of this scourge,
especially the issue of overcrowded hostels in which those at receiving end of attacks live
Implore our international and ecumenical partners to pray for us in our time of shame and
join us in urging government to respond more urgently and comprehensively to this
challenge

Rev. Alistair Arends


General Secretary