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Teacher killed for opposition to witchcraft, could become South Africa's first saint

Servant of God Benedict Daswa                     pic: SACBC

Servant of God Benedict Daswa pic: SACBC

A Catholic teacher,  killed just 19 years ago in South Africa for opposing witchcraft practices, is on the way to becoming South Africa's first Saint.

The Cause for Beatification of Servant of God Benedict Daswa, has recently been completed in its diocesan phase, in the Diocese of Tzaneen, South Africa.

The documentation, 850 pages complied over five years,  was presented to Archbishop James Patrick Green, Apostolic Nuncio in South Africa, to be sent on to Archbishop Angelo Amato, Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The records will not be published until the Congregation for the Causes of Saints appoints a Roman Postulator to proceed to the next phase, in which holy cards of the Servant of God will be made and a novena composed, to allow the public to pray and ask for his intercession.

In the meantime, a brief biography and DVD is being produced by the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, (SACB),  to spread the story of the  Benedict Daswa's life and work.

According to the SACBC,  Benedict grew up in a traditional family that belonged to the small tribe of the Lemba, who live mainly in the town of Venda, in the province of Limpopo. He converted to Catholicism while studying to be a schoolteacher.

Benedict soon realized that witchcraft went against the Catholic faith. From that moment, in both is private and public life, he took a strong stance against the practice, explaining that these beliefs had been the cause of the deaths of  many innocent people unjustly accused of practicing it.

Benedict also fought against the use of false medicines and charms for protection from the evil eye. He encouraged sports and other activities. On 2 February, 1990, just days after having refused to pay a tax to pay for a rite intended to expel several 'witches,' he was attacked and beaten to death with stones and clubs. He was only four months away from his 44th birthday.

The SACBC describe Benedict as: “a role model to us all and a great witness to our faith.”

Source: Fides/SACBC