Government silence condemned

Published February 1, 2004


South African church leaders have condemned their government’s silence on atrocities committed by Zimbabwe ‘s rulers against political opponents, equating the situation in their neighbouring country to what existed under apartheid.

“We call on the South African Government to speak out and condemn the ongoing violation of human rights in Zimbabwe,” said the leaders from churches in Johannesburg and from South Africa ‘s most populous province of Gauteng in a recent statement.

“We are appalled by the witness given to us concerning the extent of torture being meted out on Zimbabwean citizens who flee this country for nothing less than fear of death,” they said. “Little in recent times has resonated more convincingly with the painful and humiliating circumstances which prevailed in the regimes of [Hendrik] Verwoerd, [John] Vorster and P.W. Botha [all leaders of apartheid governments].”

Former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, known for his fight against apartheid, has also criticized President Thabo Mbeki, saying that if South Africa ignores human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, it might one day ignore them at home.


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