Friday, February 02, 2007

NEWS: Baptist Pastor Shot Dead in South Africa

Michael Ireland

FISH HOEK, SOUTH AFRICA -- A 65-year-old
prominent radio presenter and founding pastor of a local
church has been shot and killed in South Africa.
According to Salem Voice Ministries News Service,
Pastor Philip Zanikele Mokson, the founding pastor of
Masiphumelele Baptist Church in Pokele Road, Ocean
View was shot and killed while he was teaching a Bible
class at the Church on Monday evening, January 22.

Family members including his wife, children, and
grandchildren witnessed the event.

SVM News Service says Mokson was a peacemaker who
acted as a link between Western Cape Premier Ebrahim
Rasool and afflicted communities. He was also featured in
a column on page two of the April 16, 2005, print edition
of the Biblical Recorder.

The SVM News Service report says Mokson's attacker,
30 year old Mvusi Dondolo also shot and seriously
wounded a 32-year-old woman named Tamara Bemba, who
was known to have spurned his romantic advances,
despite the efforts of another pastor named Joseph to
protect her. Bemba is paralyzed down the left side of her
body. After others had left the church, the man reloaded,
turned the gun on himself, and took his own life, according
to John Thomas, pastor of Fish Hoek Baptist Church and
a close friend of Mokson who arrived at the scene soon
after the shootings.

Fish Hoek Baptist Church sponsors the work in
Masiphumelele, a teeming township of more than 20,000
residents. Residents are predominantly young and poor.

As many as 25 percent of them are HIV positive.
The man who shot Mokson had been baptized as a
member in late 2006, and the pastor had sought to counsel
him during a period of deep depression. The man, also
known as Vusi, had attempted suicide at least twice. On
one occasion Mokson had discovered him hanging inside
the shack where he lived and cut him down.

Others had also counseled Dondolo. Pastor Thomas said
Dondolo had apparently asked Bemba to marry him, but
she told him she was not interested. "Look, this could
have sparked the shooting. We don't know for sure,"
Thomas said.

"Pastor Philip Mokson was a peacemaker and a godly
community leader, a committed Christian, who gained the
respect of the community. Whenever there was a problem
in the community, residents would call him. For He stood
as the face of justice, and had a deep caring for his
community," Thomas told SVM News Service.

"He was a founding trustee of Radio CCFM and their
Xhosa presenter. In addition, he was a trustee of the
Living Hope Community Centre, a health-based NGO
(Non-Governmental Organization) in Masiphumelele, and
a member of the Cape Town division of the Baptist
Church's Seminary."

Pastor Thomas also said: "A relative of a Masiphumelele
resident had drowned in the Eastern Cape while Mokson
was on holiday in Uitenhage in December, and the pastor
had called the resident to offer his condolences. When the
family had traveled up to the Eastern Cape, he said, their
car rolled and they were injured. Mokson later fetched
them at an Eastern Cape hospital and drove them to their
relatives' home in the Eastern Cape. That's the type of
man he was," said Thomas.

Thomas explained that he had worked with Mokson for 18
years and had known him for 20. "Technically, I'm his
boss, but we were more than colleagues -- we were great
friends," he added.

"Pastor Philip's death came as a big shock (to myself) and
my department," Sifiso Mbuyisa, the Director in the Social
Dialogue and Human Rights department in the Premier's
office, said on Tuesday.

"He was a key leader in the Masiphumelele community
near Ocean View. I remember his great help in dealing
with the Somali crisis and the fires. And we worked
closely together whenever there was a crisis, " Sifisco
said, adding: "His death is a great loss to the community,
his church and to us."

SVM News says that following the shootings, thousands of
township residents surrounded the church building in
hushed silence, remaining into the early-morning hours in
quiet tribute to the respected and influential pastor, who
was considered a leading elder in the community.

Pastor Philip Mokson leaves his wife Minah (65), and his
daughters Nolifa (33), and Nomzana (35).

Mokson's funeral was held in his home town of Uitenhage.
A memorial service for Mokson was scheduled for Jan. 27
at the King of Kings Baptist Centre, a multi-pronged
ministry center sponsored by Fish Hoek Baptist Church.

© 2007 ASSIST News Service,

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