Benedict Daswa, first martyr of South Africa, to be beatified on 13 September

According to Agenzia FIDES – the News Agency for the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples – the Church in South Africa is preparing to celebrate the beatification of Benedict Samuel Tshimangadzo Daswa, martyred on 2 February 1990, the first martyr of South Africa recognized by the Church.

For the occasion, a special website – www.daswabeatification.org.za – has been created that presents the life of this devout Catholic. In February 1990, following a series of strong storms that raged in the area of his native village, the local people thought that these phenomena were due to acts of witchcraft. The council of elders therefore decided to consult a “healer” and the villagers were asked an individual contribution of 5 Rand to pay for his advice. Benedict said that thunderstorms are natural phenomena and refused to give his contribution to pay a sorcerer, thus arousing the anger of many residents.

On 2 February 1990, the car Benedict was travelling in was blocked with a road ambush by some individuals. He managed to escape on foot, and hid in a house. But faced with the threat to kill the woman who hid him, Benedict gave himself to his captors, entrusting his soul to the Lord. He was stabbed to death and his body covered with boiling water.

Nine days later the world celebrated the release of Nelson Mandela, a man who, in his life, showed tolerance and respect to all, even those who saw him as their greatest enemy.

On January 22, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree which recognizes the “martyrdom of Tshimangadzo Samuele Benedetto Daswa (Bakali), lay, killed in hatred of the Faith, on February 2, 1990, in Mbahe (South Africa)“.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside at the ceremony, representing Pope Francis. It will take place on 13 September at the Benedict Daswa Shrine, in Tshitanini in Limpopo Province.