Bombed anti-apartheid church will hold service on Sunday

CPUT vows to bring perpetrators to justice

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Photo of burnt painting
This painting in St Mark’s Anglican Church was damaged by a petrol bomb allegedly thrown by a student protester from CPUT. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

The petrol bomb attack on the St Mark’s Anglican Church in District Six won’t deter the activities of the church, says Father Austen Jackson.

A Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) student protester has been arrested for the bombing which took place on Wednesday afternoon. The petrol bomb damaged the reception area.

Speaking at a meeting between Jackson and Judge Siraj Desai at the church on Friday morning, Desai called the attack “unacceptable”. He said it showed a “poor understanding of history”.

“The church has a long and proud history protecting and preserving the dignity of the people of Cape Town,” Desai said. “The church is not only part of our history, but more importantly, part of our struggle history.”

The reception area of the church has been burnt. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Speaking in his capacity as the Chair of the District Six Museum, Desai questioned why the church was damaged as a result of student protests. He said the attack on the church diminished the cause of the protests and he appealed to South Africans to reject “such mindless acts”.

The KIipkerk, as it was known under apartheid, survived destruction during the District Six forced removals. Desai said: “Students should be aware of the heritage of this place.” He suggested that CPUT should teach its students the history of not only the church, but the area of District Six as well.

Father Austen Jackson, Judge Siraaj Desai and member of the church Donald Hendricks talk to press about the damages. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Father Jackson said he believed this was not the work of a single student, but rather a faction of CPUT students. “It feels like your house has been ransacked,” he said.

Jackson said the church has been around for 130 years. He said the church is steadfast and, despite the damage, will continue having services, even the one being held this Sunday. The church had never in its history missed a Sunday service, according to Jackson.

In a statement, CPUT Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Chris Nhlapo said the “attack on a church must be viewed as the most heinous attack we have seen in all the protest action to date.”

Nhlapo said: “We will leave no stone unturned to bring the perpetrators to justice and will ask the prosecuting authorities to move swiftly so that the guilty ones can be brought to book and face the full might of the law.”

St Mark’s Anglican Church in District Six. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

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