The South African Council of Churches and its international ecumenical partners are shocked and outraged by the death threats against its President, Bishop Jo Seoka, and members of his family.
On Tuesday morning, 15 March 2011, five men armed with guns arrived at Bishop Seoka’s Pretoria home, declaring their intention to kill the Bishop and his wife. The Bishop and his wife were not at home at the time, but the intruders returned later in the day looking for them. They also made remarks that suggested that they were watching the Bishop and his wife’s movements.
Yesterday, two different people telephoned the Bishop’s home enquiring from those present about the Bishop’s whereabouts. The callers reiterated their threats against the Bishop and left a message that he should pack and leave the house.
Although the Bishop remains calm and spiritually strong, Bishop Seoka’s colleagues in the ecumenical movement are extremely concerned about these threats, which have understandably caused members of his family a great deal of anxiety. At the time that these events occurred, the Bishop was hosting a meeting of the SACC’s international ecumenical partners, who are equally disturbed by these reports.
At the moment, we have no information about who is behind these threats or their motives. However, we recognise that Bishop Seoka, who is the Anglican Bishop of Pretoria, has long been an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice and a courageous opponent of corruption and unethical business practices in his capacity as a leader of the ecumenical movement.
Furthermore, we cannot take these threats lightly because we know that clergy are often vulnerable. We have been shocked and saddened by past incidents in which clergy and church leaders have been murdered.
The Gauteng Police Commissioner has been notified of these threats, and we appreciate his cooperation in enhancing security for the Bishop and his family.
The SACC will not allow threats such as these to deter us from pursuing our calling to fulfil the gospel imperatives to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalised and to provide moral leadership to the nation.
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Issued by the Office of the SACC General Secretary
For more information, contact:
Rev. Mautji Pataki, General Secretary (082 862 4396)