Martyr for the Faith

Devotion of the Local People 

Benedict’s coffin being lowered into the ground

Already at his funeral there was a sense that Benedict Daswa had died a martyr for the faith, as the priests who celebrated his funeral Mass wore red vestments. In the following years the local people kept his memory alive by coming together to pray at his grave on the Anniversary of his death. In the year 2000, to mark the 10th Anniversary of his death, they approached the local priest to celebrate a special Parish Mass and visit the site where Benedict was attacked by the mob who killed him. On that day, his widow, Evelyn, placed a flower on the spot, and then went to his tomb to pray there.

Investigating His Life and Death

Bishop-Emeritus Hugh Slattery msc, the Bishop of Tzaneen Diocese at the time, was informed about this Parish celebration. He decided to find out more about this man in order to consider the possibility that Benedict might be a true martyr for the faith. In early May 2004 Bishop Slattery met with his consulters and Benedict’s brother, Mackson, then a little later with the Priests and Parish Pastoral Council of Thohoyandou. At the meeting, several people shared their memories of Benedict and the events around his death. It was then evident that Benedict, an exemplary Christian throughout his life, had taken a consistent, principled and public stand against witchcraft after his baptism. The decision was then taken to conduct a preliminary investigation into his life and death, so in May 2004 Bishop Slattery issued a Decree instigating the Preliminary Diocesan Inquiry.