Catholic Church in South Africa Offering Counseling, Emotional Support to Mudslide Victims

“People need emotional support, psychological support, material support, toiletries and clothing,” he said, and added, “People would come up to me and say, Father, what you see me wearing is all I have because I had to run for my life, the house is no longer there, everything was swept away.”

The Zambian-born member of the Congregation of Missionaries of Africa described the September 11 incident as “devastating”, as those affected by the mudslide “lost absolutely everything”.

In the September 19 interview, Fr. Mapulanga told ACI Africa that the community is grateful for the support from the Catholic Church.

He said that the victims were specifically “very happy” with the Monday, September 12 solidarity visit of Archbishop Zolile Peter Mpambani of Bloemfontein Archdiocese, followed by a visit from a delegation from the Commission for Justice and Peace of SACBC.

The Catholic Priest also expressed gratitude for “the support from the Vicar General and other Priests from the Archdiocese”, who were among the first to “call me and ask whether I was okay, if there is anything they can do to help.”

“The collapse of the Jagersfontein mine dam has sparked anger among community members” affiliated to different political parties as “some were saying that they have raised concerns about the mine dam to the ruling party, but the government was not able to assist,” Fr. Mapulanga further said,

He added, “Political parties tried to use the incident to gain political scores.”

In a separate interview with ACI Africa, the Director of the SACBC Commission for Justice and Peace, Fr. Stan Muyebe, said, “The solidarity visit offered an opportunity to do an assessment of the situation on the ground and explore possibilities of the Church working with the affected communities to demand justice and accountability from the mine owners and the government.”

“We are planning to go back to Jagersfontein this week with the lawyers to meet with the victims. We have also assessed the situation to see how we can help the affected community to rebuild their homes and livelihoods,” Fr. Stan said during the Monday, September 19 interview.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.


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