The three living archbishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have called on South Africans to respond “by choosing life over death; knowledge over ignorance” as the country battles the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In an unprecedented move, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba issued a joint statement on Tuesday, calling on “people across Southern Africa to beat the coronavirus by working closely together”.
By Tuesday afternoon, South Africa had 62 confirmed cases.
The three clergymen said they were encouraged by the “strong evidence” they were seeing of all Southern Africans working together to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus across the sub-continent.
They said the response to the threat provided proof of the “oneness and interdependence of the human family”.
“The virus has no boundaries – it cuts across all communities, rich and poor, in north, south, east and west. Only mutual love and care for one another will get us through the crisis,” the statement read.
They added that there was no need to panic, citing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments that the country and its people had the knowledge, the means and the resources to fight the virus.
The archbishops pleaded with young people to take the matter seriously, for themselves and their elders.
“To young people we say we know you are not scared for yourselves, and some of you may feel that coronavirus is not an African problem. But you might be carriers of the virus without even knowing it. So we appeal to you not to put at risk the lives of those who cared for you when you were children. We know that you are being asked to sacrifice the most for your old people. But please protect those of your parents’ and grandparents’ generation.”
They added that it was an opportunity to choose life over death.
“Let us take the opportunity to respond by choosing life over death; by choosing knowledge over ignorance; by sharing that knowledge; and by caring about others through taking care of ourselves.”