NEDERDUITSE GEREFORMEERDE KERK
DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH
11 Jun 2020
THE DRC CHURCH CONDEMNS VIOLENCE AND THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The high incidence of violence in South Africa and the world is an issue of great concern for the DRC church. The underlying assumptions of people about their fellow human beings are not only against the fundamental values of the Christian faith, but also against our Constitution.
The DRC church condemns all forms of superiority and intolerance – wherever this occur. Racism, sexism, homophobia, the abuse of women and children, xenophobia and the violence arising from these twisted assumptions lead to the violation of God-given human rights. This also cause extreme pain and separation and is totally against the gospel on which we build our faith.
The DRC church itself has a sad history with racism, but for the past 30 years, has rejected all teachings on the superiority of any race. The DRC church is convinced that any form of racism should be strongly opposed, even within the church itself and regards it a priority to fight racism.
Furthermore, the DRC church is concerned about the high incidence of crime, especially related to violence, in the whole of South Africa. We support constitutional law enforcement with respect for human rights. However, we are concerned about the high incidence of farm attacks, especially considering the restraint on private security forces in our country.
The church understands that poverty and unemployment, as a result of inequality in our society, increase the risk for political unrest and crime. For this reason we are concerned about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the well-being of South African society.
Maintaining law and order and enforcing regulations during lockdown, made this situation even more complex. We are especially concerned about violence used by the South African police and army in their law enforcement. Some of government’s lockdown regulations in itself represent a unique form of structural violence against South African citizens, for example when actions are enforced that are not in accordance with constitutional freedom as stated in the Bill of Human Rights. Colin Khoza and 11 others have lost their lives by 1 June as a result of police or army
brutality. The church strongly opposes this kind of brutality and violation of human rights, especially of black people in the USA and elsewhere. We pray that the recent events will lead to a deep reflection and renewed actions on conservation of human rights.
Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic requires wisdom and balance. Maintaining law and order in a situation where people are being restrained for their own good, is a complex issue. However, if agents of law enforcement are not being held accountable for the irrational restraint of freedom and rights, the situation is made worse and more issues arise. Our opinion is that government is not passing the test of reasonable justification and consistency with al its regulations. This is why the church has to voice a strong “no” against structural violence and against violent law enforcement on citizens. The impression is sometimes created that this type of violence is being sanctioned and protected by the highest command structure. The church pleads for a no-tolerance policy against any form of violence, however big or small. Government leaders and politicians should be strongly committed to non-violence and law enforcement leaders should be held accountable for applying this policy. Violence always corrupts the gospel, as well as democratic ideals. Even where violence is seen as unavoidable, there is always a moral compromise.
The DRC church wants to join in conversation with other churches, Christian institutions and faith leaders. Joint strategies for action should be discussed. We have to think about ways in which we as people of faith can support victims, as well as perpetrators. These conversations should include role players in government – national as well as local. A conversation with the Minister of Safety and Security is urgently required in our current situation.
Dr Gustav Claassen