Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
South Africa: Anti-Witchcraft Catholic May Become Saint
Pretoria — A Catholic who was killed 19 years ago
for rejecting his people's belief in witchcraft could become
South Africa's first saint.
The Diocese of Tzaneen has completed the first phase
of the cause for beatification and canonization of
the Servant of God Benedict Daswa.
The phase took five years to complete.
The final documents addressed to Archbishop Angelo Amato SDB,
Prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints, were signed
on July 2 by Bishop Hugh Slattery MSC, Bishop of Tzaneen,
Sr Sally Duigan OLSH, Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
and Chancellor of the Diocese, Fr Andre Bohas MSC,
Postulator of the Cause and Fr Eddie O'Neill SDB, the Promoter of Justice.
The documents consist of over 850 pages of testimonies
of reliable witnesses to the life and death of the Servant of God.
The original copy, which was sealed first, remains
in the archives of the Diocese of Tzaneen.
The transcript copy and public copy were then sealed and are
to be taken to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome,
through the the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop James Green.
The Transcript and Public Copies will remain sealed until
the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves
a Roman Postulator to proceed with the next phase
of the process.
Information about the Servant of God and
the Cause may now be made known to the public.
It is thought that Benedict Daswa led a holy life
and became a genuine martyr for the faith.
The next stage will be to prepare prayer cards and a novena
to enable people to pray for favours through
the intercession of the Servant of God.
A short biography and DVD will be produced to make Benedict Daswa
more widely known here in South Africa and
in other African countries,
as a role model for all and a great witness to the faith.
According to a biographical note published by
the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference,
Benedict grew up in a traditionalist family who belonged to
the small Lemba tribe who live mainly among the Venda people
in the Limpopo Province.
He became a Catholic while training to become a primary school teacher.
Benedict soon realized that witchcraft was against his Catholic faith.
From then on in his private life and also in public
he took a strong stand against witchcraft because
he said it led to the killing of innocent people
accused of witchcraft activities.
He also rejected the use of muti or medicines for protection
against evil or for success in sport or other activities.
It was this stand against witchcraft which eventually
led to his death.
A few days after refusing to give money for the purpose
of smelling out witches,
he was stoned and bludgeoned to death
on February 2, 1990.
He was just four months short of his 44th birthday.
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