A forum promoting better understanding between civil society, Christians, traditionalists and Muslims was launched in Khayelitsha on Friday March 13.
The South African Religious Forum (SARF) is a non-profit organisation, serving as an umbrella body affiliated to the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGSTA).
The launch of the Western Cape chapter at kwa-Ace in Khayelitsha, was attended by locals as well as representatives of the Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces as well as the national president of the SARF, Bishop Salvason Govender.
The Western Cape chapter will be led by Reverend Paul Phillips.
The organisation aims to promote and establish good governance, to promote interfaith tolerance, respect and understanding and to also promote social and cultural harmony.
A call for peace, respect, and unity for different beliefs was the talk of the day.
Bishop Govender emphasised the necessity for religious freedom and tolerance, noting that the forum was the fastest growing religious, cultural, traditional and civil society forum in the country.
The newly elected secretary of the chapter, Reverend Joy Mpalala, already has plans for expansion.
Talking to those who gathered at the venue, Pastor Mpalala emphasised that the forum is not a political party nor was it affiliated to one.
“Today it is a day to celebrate and rejoice. Plans are afoot to expand the forum and educate our people about all sorts of things including religious tolerance,” she said.
One of the founders, Thembisa Skaap, said: “I’m delighted that the hard work that has been put into this project by so many people has finally seen the light.
“We also aim to be at the forefront of resolving disputes be it family, religious, racial or gender for that matter. Our society is faced with a lot of challenges and we can not sit and fold hands as leaders of different beliefs. We are happy to have this forum in the provinces,” she said.
San, Hindu, Traditional, Muslim and Christian leaders said they welcomed the establishment of the forum and vowed to work with it to better the lives of people and fight societal ills.
Traditional leader Kholekile Busakwe that the forum would also be able to help the unemployed get jobs, while Muslim leader Imam Rashaad Ellen praised the establishment of the forum as being “the way to go”.