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World news in brief

08 September 2023


The emergency services attend the scene of the deadly fire in Albert Street, central Johannesburg, on Thursday of last week

The emergency services attend the scene of the deadly fire in Albert Street, central Johannesburg, on Thursday of last week

Archbishop laments South African fires

THE Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, has called on the authorities in Johannesburg to send fire and sanitation inspectors to informally occupied buildings in the city, after a fire broke out in Albert Street last week, killing at least 70 people. During apartheid, the building was the pass office, Archbishop Makgoba said, “where, at the thump of a stamp in your ‘dompas’, you were either allowed to stay in the city, or were endorsed out to try to eke out a living in your rural Bantusan”. At a church service for Anglican schools in Cape Town this week, he said: “It is deeply distressing to see one kind of suffering in that building be replaced by another kind of suffering under democracy.” He also referred to the recent gas explosion in Lilian Ngoyi Street, also in Johannesburg, as “an example of the rot that has infested parts of our beloved country”.


Kenyan Churches work on inter-ethnic tensions

THE National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has praised the efforts of the Kiprandich group of Elders in the recovery and return last Friday of three herds of cattle which had been stolen from John Owino, three days before. This was the result of inter-community meetings organised by the NCCK to promote peace along the border of the Kisumu and Kericho counties, where inter-ethnic clashes have resulted in 13 deaths. A statement from the NCCK on Tuesday explained that religious and community leaders and village elders had met to assess the root causes of the conflict, and had “identified theft of cattle and incitement by politicians as key drivers of the crisis”. It reports that, at the end of one meeting, “the youth agreed to preach peaceful coexistence and to avoid revenge attacks. It was notable that despite initial tensions, the meeting ended with the members of the two communities laughing together and holding hands as a sign of unity.”


Texas chaplains deplore public-school law

MORE than 100 chaplains in Texas have signed a letter urging school boards in the state to vote against putting chaplains in public (state) schools, saying that this would be “harmful” to students and families. A Bill allowing public schools to hire school chaplains is about to become law in Texas. The legislation, which had been supported by activists associated with Christian nationalism, is to give 1200 school boards until 1 March to vote on whether to employ chaplains, ENS reports. The chaplains who signed the letter, dated 22 August, regretted that only background checks would be carried out on potential school chaplains rather than the training currently required for healthcare and military chaplains. The letter, organised by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Interfaith Alliance, and the advocacy group Texas Impact, states: “Because of our training and experience, we know that chaplains are not a replacement for school counselors or safety measures in our public schools, and we urge you to reject this flawed policy option. It is harmful to our public schools and the students and families they serve.”

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