Religious leaders must promote cohesion: Zuma

08 September 2012 - 14:05 By Sapa
The Dutch Reformed Church, built from the sandstone that dominates the town.
The Dutch Reformed Church, built from the sandstone that dominates the town.

President Jacob Zuma urged religious leaders on Saturday to continue promoting social cohesion in the community.

"We urge the religious sector, in the memory of Sister Bernard [Ncube], to continue promoting social cohesion and stability in families and communities.

"We were truly pleased with the swift response of religious leaders to the tragedy of 44 people who were killed in Marikana last month," Zuma told mourners at Ncube's funeral in Soweto.

He commended religious leaders for their involvement in the Marikana tragedy and the work done by the SA Council of Churches' through its Bench Marks Foundation in producing a report on the state of the mining sector in the Rustenburg area.

"We cannot achieve transformation or sustainable development working alone. We are therefore encouraged by the support of the faith-based sector as we continue to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society," he said.

Ncube's funeral was held at the Regina Mundi catholic church in Soweto. She died last Friday at the age of 80, having played an integral role by organising women in the 1970s and '80s, in what was then called Transvaal.

She also assisted in establishing the Federation of Transvaal Women and later became that organisation's president.

She was the former mayor of the Westrand Municipality and member of Parliament from 1994.

"Her passing has also brought into sharp focus, the immense contribution and role of the church in the struggle for liberation and human rights in our country," Zuma said.

He said South Africa produced exceptional men and women of the cloth who fulfilled Biblical scriptures through bravely using the church as a site of struggle to free the people they ministered to.

These included among others Beyers Naude the founder of the Christian Institute, Archbishop Dennis Hurley, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Alan Boesak, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Father Albert Nolan and Reverend Frank Chikane.

He said these leaders realised the need for a new theology which took account the deplorable living conditions of the majority and the need for their total liberation from colonial oppression and apartheid.

"Sister Bernard felt more pressure as she was a woman and a nun, which brought about its own additional stereotypes and expectations of behaviour.

Despite constant threats and numerous attempts on her life, Ncube poured her heart and energy into her Christian and political work, Zuma said.

"We will always remember Sister Bernard as a selfless citizen who did not seek accolades, regardless of her personal achievements and the positive impact she made in the lives of others."