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Sophiatown leaders take a stand against racism


Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau joined hundreds of residents of Sophiatown to take a stand against racism in a candle light and inter-faith prayer gathering at Christ the King Church earlier this week.
Last month unknown characters sparked racial tensions and heightened divisions in the suburb after distributing a malicious letter in the community.

Addressing the gathering, Executive Mayor Tau said the “racially motivated provocation” provided everyone with the opportunity to bring the community together.

"When a community finds itself with an incident that causes polarisation, it’s critical that issues and differences are addressed. This initiative, which sees community and religious leaders coming together to address local issues, is an important one.

“This representation of unity in a community with a history of bigotry and division shows us that Sophiatown no longer represents our past but our future, a future of communities united in their diversity,” said Mayor Tau.

Local Pastor Johan Pelzer, whose name and address appear on the malicious letter without his permission, said he was heartened by the symbolism of unity shown by the multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-racial community members who had gathered for the ceremony.

“Being unwillingly tied to this malicious letter has brought about much heartache but it has also shown us that as a community, a community that stands together, we can move forward,” he said.
The Mayor appealed to residents to rally behind religious leaders.

“As a community mobilised in action you can ensure a collective stamping out of division, of fear and of mistrust. By bringing the ministers and religious leaders as well as the community together we will begin to deal with issues constructively and realise that the things that once separated us – our differences – now unite us,” he said.

Councillor Cathy Seefort said the malicious letter had been handed to the police for investigation.