In Johannesburg, South Africa, Anglican Church leaders began a three day vigil of prayer, on Monday (12 June), to mark the second anniversary of the week of bloody riots which began in the black township of Soweto.
GV EXTERIOR St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral, Johannesburg and sign outside Cathedral (2 shots)
SV Notice of vigil on cathedral door
SV PULL BACK TO GV INTERIOR Cathedral, Bishop Timothy Bavin seated in prayer (2 shots)
SV's Dean Simeon Nkoane praying (2 shots)
SV ZOOM INTO CU Girl praying wrapped in blanket
The riots which started in Soweto on 16 June 1976 erupted over a government directive that all school should be taught in Afrikaans. A student protest march through the township was stopped by police and the shooting began. The rioting spread, developing into a general attack upon South Africa's race policies. The SAC has urged people in the township to wear black in mourning for those killed and to "abstain from drinking and merry making". The Chief of South Africa's riot police, Major-General David Kriel, has said that the memorial service in Soweto on Saturday will not be disturbed by the police as long as the people stay inside the church. Over the past two weeks police have arrested over 1,00 blacks during swoops on homes in the township and at roadblocks. the operation is described as an anti-crime campaign, but Reuters News Agency reports that unofficially the police admit they are after potential "trouble-makers".
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Background: In Johannesburg, South Africa, Anglican Church leaders began a three day vigil of prayer, on Monday (12 June), to mark the second anniversary of the week of bloody riots which began in the black township of Soweto. The fighting spread from the township to other parts of South Africa and over 500 blacks were killed. The Soweto Action Committee (SAC) has called fro a week of mourning and abstinence to commemorate the riots.
SYNOPSIS: In St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, the silent vigil of prayer and fasting was interrupted on the first night by a bomb scare. Police cleared the building but the congregation were later allowed to return.
The service was led by the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, Bishop Timothy Bavin. He said the vigil would end before June 16, the day the riots began, because of the "emotive, and possible inflammatory, nature", of the anniversary.
The Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, Simeon Nkoane, is also taking part in the vigil. Memorial services throughout South Africa will culminate in a mass of remembrance in Soweto's Regina Mundi Roman Catholic Church on Saturday. The unofficial leader of Soweto, the SAC committee of ten, were arrested last October and although some have been released, an interim committee now represents the township. Student leaders in Soweto and the SAC are urging that all commemorations should be peaceful. Last year there were clashes with police who opened fire on mourners outside Regina Mundi church.