Wednesday, April 15, 2009

S. African bishop who shelters Zimbabweans now gets death threats

Hans Pienaar

He has received several death threats and has been under guard by South African police, but that will not stop Bishop Paul Verryn of Johannesburg's Central Methodist Church from sheltering Zimbabwean refugees in the heart of the country's commercial capital. Verryn has been used to controversy since he began living in Soweto in the early 1980s, then one of only a handful of whites with homes in the huge conurbation of black dormitory towns instituted under the rule of apartheid. Whether it is care-giving for refugees or finding shelter for outcasts of government policies across southern Africa, he has weathered many onslaughts. These have included vociferous condemnation by apartheid theologians, police raids and smear campaigns. The most recent of attacks came from government lawmakers in the post-Nelson Mandela parliament and other officials over his sheltering of Zimbabwean refugees.
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