By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to South African politicians, faction leaders and all those involved in recent violence to engage in constructive collaboration for peace.
“Unfortunately, in this past week we have received news of episodes of violence that are aggravating the situation of so many of our brothers and sisters in South Africa,” he said speaking during the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.
Over 200 people have been killed in the country where unrest, fueled by poverty and inequality erupted, triggered by the anger of some, over the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.
The unrest swiftly degenerated into looting which has destroyed hundreds of businesses. The police have arrested over 2,500 people suspected to be involved in inciting violence.
South Africans hard-hit by poverty, inequality and pandemic
The Pope noted that many South Africans are already hard-hit by economic and health difficulties caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“Together with the bishops of the country I direct my heartfelt appeal to all those with responsibility who are involved, that they may work for peace and collaborate with the authorities to provide assistance to those in need,” he said.
Speaking in the wake of the worst violence to erupt in the country almost three decades since the end of the apartheid regime, the Pope added: “May the desire, that guided the people of South Africa, the rebirth of harmony among all its children, never be forgotten.”
South African President, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday the unrest that has ripped through the country in the past week was stabilizing and calm has been restored to most of the affected areas, but he noted, the destruction will cost the country billions of rand.
Surge in Covid-19 infections
Meanwhile the nation is battling a surge in Covid-19 infections with almost 16,500 new infections on Thursday, the highest number of new cases of any African country, according to the WHO.
The recent violence has interrupted Covid-19 containment efforts and vaccination rollouts and experts are predicting a rise in cases following the unrest.