COVID-19 Surge, Deaths in Religious Communities Cause for Alarm: Nuns in South Africa

A reported surge in COVID-19 cases alongside deaths in religious communities in South Africa is a cause for concern, the leadership of the Conference of Catholic Sisters in the country has said in a statement shared with ACI Africa.

In the December 18 statement, the officials of the Conference urge members of the various Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life in South Africa to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures.

“As the Leadership Conference of Consecrated Life (LCCLSA), we are deeply hurt by the loss of lives under this spell of COVID-19,” the officials say in the collective statement signed by LCCLSA President, Sr. Nkhensani Shibambu.

They highlight Sisters who have succumbed to COVID-19 in recent days saying, “It is with great sadness and shock that we announce the death of six Sisters from the Daughters of Saint Francis in Port Shepstone, Marianhill Diocese. Sisters Elmara Skhakhane FSF, Leonissa Nzimande FSF (78), Colleta Msomi FSF (78), Anastasia Mthetwa FSF (86), Amara Madlala FSF (75) and Edmunda Nkomo FSF (80) passed away as a result of COVID-19.”

The named Sisters, LCCLSA leadership says, “all died within a period of a week, from 10-17 December 2020.”

“Sisters Elmara Skhakhane FSF and Leonissa Nzimande have already been buried. Sisters Colleta Msomi FSF, Anastasia Mthetwa FSF, and Amara Madlala FSF were buried Saturday 19th December in Port Shepstone,” the leadership of the Sisters’ Conference say, adding, “Fifteen other sisters are said to be critically ill.”

The death of the Sisters is “a deep wound to the Church, the Congregation and the Conference at large,” LCCLSA leadership bemoans.

“This is a very painful reminder that the scourge of COVID-19 is yet to lessen its devastation to communities and society at large,” the Sisters say in their December 18 statement shared with ACI Africa.

They express their solidarity with members of the affected Religious Orders and urge caution and vigilance.

“We send not only consolatory messages to the Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Francis but also urge all religious congregations and communities to be extra vigilant and cautious in light of the deadly and subtle Second Wave of the pandemic,” LCCLSA leaders say.

“None of us is immune to this pandemic,” the Sisters say, and continue, “In the absence of a vaccine, we remain our own best defense against the virus and the least we can do is to continue adhering to the safety protocols of COVID-19 prevention and containment especially as most people and communities gather for the celebration of the festive season and beyond.”  

They further say, “Our prayers go to the Daughters of Saint Francis and all religious congregations and personnel infected and affected by this scourge.”

“May the souls of the Sisters, the Religious, and all the faithful who have lost the battle to COVID-19, through the mercy of God, rest in eternal peace,” LCCLSA leadership implores in the December 18 statement shared with ACI Africa.


Subscribe to our Free Daily ACI Africa Newsletter

At ACI Africa, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news from Africa, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church – so that you can grow in your Catholic faith and awareness about the people of God in Africa.

When you subscribe to the ACI Africa Updates, we will send you a daily email with links to the news you need.

Use the form below to tell us where we can send the ACI Africa Updates


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]