Benedict Daswa was brutally murdered on the 2nd February 1990, a day on which President FW de Klerk announced the release of Nelson Mandela was released. He was driving home and found the road blocked with stones and logs. As he alighted to remove the blockade, a rain of stones came from the bushes. He ran to the next household with his attackers in pursuit. He got inside a rondavel.
They came and asked the woman who was at the yard. She refused to tell them but when they threatened her, she pointed him out. They got him out and as he prayed “Father, receive my spirit”, they clubbed him with a knobkerrie. He fell and died. They poured boiling water on his ears and nostrils to ensure that he was dead.
He was indeed dead. The opponent of their witchcraft beliefs was dead. He had said that, as a Catholic, he could not accept the power of witchcraft nor the attacks of witch-hunt. For that, the Church has recognised him as a Blessed Martyr.
Daswa was born on the 16th June 1946 in Mbahe, 20km from Thohoyandou, a firstborn son of the late Tshililo Petrus Daswa (Bakali) and Thidziambi Ida DASWA (Gundula) who is still alive. He was named “Tshimangadzo” (one with miracles) and Samuel when he went to school. Just as GOD said to Samuel of the Old Testament, “Listen carefully. I’m getting ready to do something in Israel that is going to shake everyone up and get their attention” (1 Samuel 3:11), Daswa shook his community. He stood against the most feared witchcraft. This cost him his life. The Church has now pronounced him as part of the “great cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1) .
His martyrdom did not come out of the blue. He led a holy life. He was a diligent worker, a good family man, an industrious educator, an active layman, an avid sportsman, an involved community leader,a man of charity and, above all, a person of deep prayer and spirituality. In short, he lived well and died holy; killed for life.