Catholic Church leaders in South Africa have called for an end to pre-election violence and criticised politicians for fuelling it.

In a 27th June statement by Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley, who chairs the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference justice and peace commission, the Church leaders said they are disappointed that politicians have not been “visible and loud enough in their condemnation of the recent factional violence and political assassinations.”

At least three people have been killed in recent violence in the Tshwane area around South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, triggered by the ruling party’s choice of a mayoral candidate for municipal elections, scheduled for the 3rd August.

After criticizing politicians who are mobilising especially unemployed youth to engage in the violence, Bishop Gabuza, on behalf of the conference urged young South Africans “not to allow themselves to be used by politicians who show signs that their primary interest is greed for power and government tenders.”

The Bishop of Kimberley Diocese lamented that South Africa’s political leaders have not “been vigorous enough in disciplining their candidates and members who are involved in disrupting campaign rallies of other parties and in creating no-go zones.”

“At the root of many social ills in our country, including the current upsurge of pre-election violence, one finds greed and patronage politics,” he said.

“This political culture”, he concluded “must be stopped before it destroys the country and sends it “into a downward spiral from which it will struggle to recover.”