In 2015 South Africa was blessed with the Beatification of Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, the first South African to be recognized as blessed by the Catholic Church, an event celebrated by thousands in January, according to a report published by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Benedict Daswa, famously known after his beatification, was a staunch Catholic. He was born in Mbahe Village in Limpopo in 1946. He was a man of wisdom and integrity, who was motivated by love of Christ in what he was doing and unreserved service to his community.
Tshimangadzo, which means a miracle was a name given to him by his family. He was a teacher, a husband, a catechist and a man of prayer who had offered his life totally to the service of his community and the church, always encouraging the youth to live good productive lives and to grow strong in their Christian faith.
Tshimangadzo also dedicated his life to doing apostolate to the sick, the vulnerable and prisoners.
Because of his strong faith in Christ Tshimangazo did not believe in the power of witchcraft, one of the popular and strong beliefs in his area during that time.
In January 1990 Tshimangadzo was brutally killed by his own villagers for his strong stand against witchcraft and his refusal to use his financial resources to support the popular belief. He was tired of listening to the cases against vulnerable people being killed innocently as the result of unfounded allegations of witchcraft against them.
On the 1st January 2020, about 4 thousand Catholics and Non-Catholics gathered at Tshitanini, Blessed Benedict Daswa Shrine, to honor 30 years anniversary of this martyred hero in Christian faith.
The 30th Martyrdom Anniversary celebration of Benedict Daswa was attended by faithful from all over South Africa and beyond; some coming from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, and some individuals from different parts of the world. Some dignitaries from different parts of Limpopo Province; Chiefs in their different levels and government representatives were among those present to honor Tshimangadzo for the principles he stood for during his life.
Also present during the celebration were; children of Benedict Daswa, his relatives, age mates, villagers and colleagues he worked with as a teacher.
Wilfrid Cardinal Napier OFM of South Africa, who is also the Archbishop of Durban, Bishop Hugh Slattery, the emeritus of Tzaneen Diocese, Bishop João Noé Rodrigues, the present bishop of the Tzaneen Diocese, about 40 priests together with deacons from different parts of South Africa presided over the celebration, while Wilfrid Cardinal Napier OFM presided over the Holy Mass.
A Catholic Radio in South Africa, Radio Veritas was also present, transmitting live the event, working together with Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference Communication and Media Office, to transmit the good news of Blessed Benedict Daswa to all the faithful in South Africa and the whole world.
The Catholic Church in Southern Africa has already started the cause for Tshimangadzo’s canonization.