Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists Decries Xenophobic Violence

(Spectrumbot) #1
Seventh-day Adventist Church Response to the recent and current Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Southern Africa Indian Ocean region is outraged by the recent/current xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals in South Africa. There is no justifiable reason to warrant the senseless violence and prejudice bringing shame to a new and free democratic South Africa. To embrace true freedom means to renounce a spirit of domination, abuse or violence against people. Without reservation, our Leadership and almost 3.5 million members in Southern Africa condemn all these senseless and horrendous acts of violence and hatred which has also affected members of our church.

The President of the Southern Africa Union Conference, Dr Tankiso Letseli, has issued a statement that “the SDA church in South Africa have mobilised ADRA SA & MOWCS SA as a way of intervening. We have identified persons who have been displaced by xenophobic violence. Currently, MOWCS SA, together with MOWCS KNFC Area Office, is on the ground providing food supplies & needed help to not less than 1500 persons daily in the Durban area. We are currently providing cooked meals in Chatsworth and Chesterville areas. The President of the KNFC (Pastor C M Nhlapo, together with his team) is working with the MOWCS KNFC to make inroads in affected areas for further intervention. The TOC Leadership, together with Pastor Mpho Rantsoabe, MOWCS TOC Director & his team, has identified "hot spots" in Johannesburg area for the purpose of responding and intervening. We are also trying to mobilise the support of ADRA International, through ADRA AFRO, so that we can increase our reach.”

An inhumane crisis of this magnitude affects the entire world church and international community. All local Seventh-day Adventist churches are urged to intensify their efforts with ADRA SA & MOWCS SA, government and other faith-based organisations to alleviate the suffering as a result of this evil acts-of-violence.

We also appeal to all those affected to co-operate with government agencies like the police and department of Home Affairs so that those perpetrators of the violence can be brought to justice.

We all, each one, regardless of our nationality, color or creed are made in the image of God (Colossians 1:15) and take the issue of human dignity very seriously. This constrains us to treat one another as brothers and sisters and an injury to one affects us all. The collective fabric of South Africa is diverse and dynamic and must be preserved at all costs without violence or the shedding of blood. Human dignity elevates every person we meet to the status of one with infinite worth, a person to be respected, loved, and honored.

The Bible commands and conditions us how we should treat one another. ”If a foreigner lives with you in your land, you are not to mistreat/oppress/ him. Foreigners living among you must be treated like your own people. Love them as you love yourself…” Leviticus 19: 33,34.

May God help us renounce all forms of violence, coercion, and violations of people’s consciences and physical and emotional integrity. May He grace us with the strength to embrace peace in all its dimensions. May He give us the determination to uphold every person’s dignity. May He also create in us the will and the passion to work for the freedom of everyone until the One who is coming comes.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Carolyn Parsons) #2

Finally something we can all get together on. :exclamation:

(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

a well reasoned and well stated position argument. Tom Z

(Peter Marks) #4

How sad that there are not more comments applauding this well stated position statement. But it may be that the Adventist committment to social justice truly goes no further than my back yard.


Peter, what Carolyn wrote above says it perfectly:

And therein lies the problem. Unfortunately, too much agreeing can make for boring reading.

I went and did some more research after having read this article, I didnt fully understand why this was all happening. I ended up coming across a CNN report and film footage. To be honest I still dont understand why this is all happening.

(Steve Mga) #6

That is the problem with a crisis such as this. It is not understandable.
One group of humans seeing another group of humans who are seen as Less Than the first group, and because this is so, they are worthy of annihilation by various means, and must also include anything that belongs to them.

Here in America, why do people burn and loot their own town like Watts, CA, or Ferguson, MO?
In Europe through the centuries – the persecution and killing of Jews. The Stalin killings of people groups. The Christians of Turkey in early 1900. South East Asia – The Killing Fields. In Africa one people group slaughtering another, including SDAs killing other SDAs just because they belonged to the wrong People Group. In Australia, the treatment of primitive tribes, even to Christians kidnapping their children. The Slave Trade through the Centuries.
We have to continually announce, the words of the NT. God has made of one blood ALL People Groups. And this has to become a continual theme, announced frequently before a crisis is fomented. The Christian World has to help in understanding that the person next to me is my Brother, my Sister.
Unfortunately, many times it is so-called Christian Representatives who are divisive in this understanding and acceptance. Ireland – Christians killing Christians because they were on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the dividing street. WHERE were the Pastors and Priests who read the very SAME Scriptures?
We as Christians have to continually stand up, put ourselves in harms way, and show mercy and compassion to BOTH groups, to ALL groups.

(Carolyn Parsons) #7

I’m with you; very difficult.

I found this bit on the Wikipedia page on Xenophobia in South Africa:

A report by the Human Sciences Research Council identified four broad causes for the violence:

  1. relative deprivation, specifically intense competition for jobs, commodities and housing;
  2. group processes, including psychological categorisation processes that are nationalistic rather than superordinate
  3. South African exceptionalism, or a feeling of superiority in relation to other Africans; and
  4. exclusive citizenship, or a form of nationalism that excludes others.

Another report puts it like this:

A subsequent report, Towards Tolerance, Law and Dignity: Addressing Violence against Foreign Nationals in South Africa commissioned by the International Organisation for Migration found that poor service delivery or an influx of foreigners may have played a contributing role, but blamed township politics for the attacks. It also found that community leadership was potentially lucrative for unemployed people, and that such leaders organised the attacks. Local leadership could be illegitimate and often violent when emerging from either a political vacuum or fierce competition, the report said, and such leaders enhanced their authority by reinforcing resentment towards foreigners.

There seems to be a complex interaction of issues and some may be unintended consequences of the nationalism that first brought parties together to form the first post apartheid government under the ANC. Another major issue seems to be unemployment that is officially at 25% and unofficially may be as high as one third. Even with this high unemployment conditions are better than in Mozambique where many of the foreign workers come from and certainly better than the Congo, where another large group comes from. We see people dyeing on desperate and deadly boat trips across the Mediterranean that people are in desperate living conditions that they take risky chances to live better lives. The populace of South Africa see this as taking of their resources.

I got information from mainly these two sources, but also from other news outlets that I have bee following.

(Kim Green) #8

Thanks, Carolyn, it helps to have it more clarified. Very sad.


Thank you Carolyn for going out of your way to provide me with all that info. I will be sure to look at when I get back home.

(Andrew) #10

Every since Nelson Mandela retired, I have feared for SA. I have this depressing feeling, it is only a matter of time before it goes the way of Zimbabwe.

The black majority are now the racists. They are destroying the white wealth creators at the expense of the economy.

(Peter Marks) #11


Boring reading, uh! I don’t understand that sentiment. When xenophobic violence happens in America are you too bored to read about it! What wonderful denunciations resulted from the fact that the official Adventist reactions to recent recial violence was either wrong-headed or too soft.

As I say, when these acts of social injustice occur in our backyard, we can get really exercised. However, when it happens half a world away we hardly raise a wimper!! Except when it involves condoms, dildos or KY Jelly in Timbuktu or Niger. Perhaps, just perhaps we need to examine our own values.

(Peter Marks) #12


The more accurate one can be in their commentary, the more sensitive one is seen to be.

I have made several comments about the treatment of Australian Aborigines [yes that is their official and proper designation] by other Australians. However, I would never claim that they are primitive tribes. Some of them are desert dwellers. Their cultures are ancient but hardly primitive.Further, the treatment of Australian Aborigines by paternalistic governments and churches was bent on the aim of integrating aboriginal society to the “superior” western culture. This philosophy and policy was misguided, and governments and churches have apologized. In such a context, one may well be best to refrain from using loaded words such as “kidnapped.” What do you think?


Peter, I believe you may have misunderstood what I meant. The article is obviously not boring. If you notice I quoted Carolyn when she said “Finally something we can all get together on!” I absolutely agree with her. But what I was trying to say was that when theres 100% agreement it will not make for a stimulating dialogue (in the comment section), and why only a few of us have commented here.

I most definitely think it is important, and did some more research after reading it to try and understand the situation a little better. My apologies for not being more clear.


Reading that article, Carolyn, seems to suggest that every possible situation which would make a country struggle, exists, atm, in South Africa.

And to add something which wasnt brought up is that of the West opening its doors to doctors, nurses, engineers etc., from Africa. Some may ask why this would be such a bad thing. Well, its not really bad a thing, but it doesnt seem to be helping either. When a whole continent is struggling, as it is, in educating its people, and those people, once educated, immigrate to the West…then, how can Africa possibly get out of this situation? Its difficult. Of course no body wants to deny a person entry because of their higher education. Usually its because of their higher education they are allowed entry.

Or am I looking at it all wrong? Is it a good idea to allow as many educated people from Africa into the West?

(Peter Marks) #15


I understand completely what you mean.

My original point was that instances of social injustice in America that are reported on this blog, are commented on quite vociforously. Yet when instances of social justice around the world are reported, comments are very sparse.

With one grand exception. Matters of injustice related to sexuality in Africa seem to be reported and commented on, ad nauseum. And often without a proper regard for the cultural dimensions of such issues.

So much for a genuine commitment to social justice. It is important that those who protest issues of social injustice the loudest, also be the most loving people in their own personal sphere!

(Carolyn Parsons) #16

This has been a problem in the region for a long time. In order to maintain a functional society, you do need to educate and nurture the next generations of leaders. In most of post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa, there has been one leader or party and in many cases they have managed to solidify their single party rule. This leads to corruption ad cronyism. When a party in power has no entity to keep them accountable such as robust opposition parties, there is little momentum for change.

(Eben de Jager) #17

Interesting how the SID speaks out against periodic xenophobia but ignores persistent genocide of farmers in South Africa. Could it be that the huge publicity given to xenophobia is used as an opportunistic PR stunt but the lack of publicity (locally and internationally) of farm murders causes a blind eye to be cast? What other motivation could there be for the deafening silence from the Office®s on thousands of farmers being killed? Many more South African farmers were killed than perished in the xenophobic attacks, yet not a word said about it by the SID, Unions or any Conferences.

(Andreas Bochmann) #18

Indeed … and there seem to be far reaching implications for many topics, many phobias, many forms of violence.

(Carolyn Parsons) #19

This is always an issue when some deaths catch the attention of people and media, and other deaths don’t. This is something I struggle with all the time. Obviously, one death by violence is no more important than another death by violence. In west Africa Ebola captured the attention of the world while 600,000 deaths each year from Malaria don’t get the spotlight. When 150 people die in a plane crash the whole world mourns but when 150 people die one by one as a result of a murder-suicide their lives barely make a ripple.

Does this mean that an organization should not comment on stories like the Xenophobic violence when other violence stays in the shadows? I don’t know. All I know is that every life matters equally.

(Eben de Jager) #20

True, the media will focus on one case more than on the other, but the Church should be consistent and 85 000 farmers and families killed in 20 years is hardly something that could not have drawn enough attention…