Denounce “crimes against women, children” in Families, Archbishop Urges South Africans

Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale during the Ministry and Vocations Fair marking the Archdiocesan phase of the World Meeting of Families. Credit: ACI Africa

There is need to denounce and expose persons behind violence in families, including “crimes against women and children,” the Catholic Archbishop of South Africa’s Johannesburg Archdiocese has said.

In his homily during the Eucharistic celebration held at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Kagiso 1 of Johannesburg Archdiocese in honor of victims of the July 28 sexual assault of eight women in Krugersdorp, Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale condemned the incident, and described the perpetrators as “enemies in our families and communities”.

“We are appealing to men and saying, what has happened is below any human being's dignity,” Archbishop Tlhagale said September 1 in reference to the eight women aged between 19 to 37 who were victims of multiple rapes whilst shooting a music video near a mine dump in Krugersdorp, Johannesburg in South Africa.

Alluding to the claim the vice of rape has its origin in families and the wide circle of friends and acquaintances, the South African Archbishop cautioned against silence.

Archbishop Tlhagale said, “When family violence occurs, we sometimes hide the crime and do not discuss it. We believe that loyalty to family is more important than loyalty to the gospel, which is a wrong attitude.”


“Those who commit crimes against women and children should be identified, removed from the family, and, ideally, reported to the police,” he said, and added, “They should be regarded as enemies in our families and communities. We must continue to denounce such actions.”

On August 10, authorities in South Africa charged seven men with 32 counts of rape after a mass assault at an abandoned mine near Johannesburg, BBC News reported.

The men were among more than 60 suspects who appeared in court on immigration and firearms charges. They are believed to be illegal migrants to South Africa.

In his September 1 homily, Archbishop Tlhagale emphasized the importance of Church’s teachings on human dignity and the “common equality” of women and men in the eyes of God.

“Being created in God's image gives us a common dignity, a common equality before God,” he said, and added, “Jesus’ death on the cross removed the wall of hostility between male and female.”

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“To be baptized in the name of God also gives us a common dignity,” the member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) further said, adding, “We are all made members through baptism of the body of Christ. We therefore are equal before God, and should be equal to our neighbors.”

Archbishop Tlhagale who has been Local Ordinary of Johannesburg since June 2003 blamed violence at family level on the failure of the people of God to take seriously the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“We are lukewarm towards these teachings, and thus this explains our half faith, explains the violence, domestic violence against women, and the killing of women by men,” he lamented, and continued, “One can conclude that those of us men who are involved in these crimes against women, we probably don't believe in these teachings at all.”

“We are so selfish that we don't even believe that others should treat us the way we would treat them,” the 74-year-old Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry as Archbishop of South Africa’s Bloemfontein Archdiocese in April 1999 said.

He called upon teachers of John Martin’s Primary School who participated in the September 1 Holy Mass to “teach boys at school about honor, self-pride, about chivalry”.


“It should always be an honor for a man to treat their partners, their wives with love and honor,” Archbishop Tlhagale said.

He added, “We should share the same dignity before God and others, and be proud to profess that common dignity in order to become the watchdogs of honest behavior, so that we can truly be the reflection of God's image in ourselves.”

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.