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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 11:44 GMT
SA church on horns of ox dilemma
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane has been asked to intervene
Animal anti-cruelty officials in South Africa have locked horns with the Anglican Church over plans to slaughter an ox at a church ceremony.

St Peter's Church in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, plans to slaughter the beast to mark the inauguration of the newly created False Bay diocese.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has expressed concern over the animal's welfare.

The priest at the church accused the SPCA of disregarding African tradition.

"People must not impose their views and norms or beliefs on African people," Rev Zolile Sogiba said.

The idea is to have more meat for refreshments
Rev Zolile Sogiba
"Our church is a diverse church, diverse in culture, worshipping and spirituality, and people must appreciate that diversity because it indicates how different cultures worship God.

Local SPCA executive Allan Perrins said the society wanted assurances from the church that the slaughter would be conducted humanely and said SPCA representatives would attend the ceremony.

Speaking in his personal capacity, Mr Perrins also questioned whether slaughtering an animal was an appropriate way to inaugurate a church.

"I think if anyone should be thanked on such an occasion, it should rather be God," he said.

But Rev Sogiba insisted that the slaughter was nothing to do with invoking the ancestors.

"This is not a traditional ceremony, this is a celebration because we are inaugurating our new diocese," he said. "The idea is to have more meat for refreshments."

The SPCA appealed to Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane to intervene in the matter.

Bishop Mervyn Castle, speaking on behalf of the Archbishop, told the SPCA that all care would be taken to spare the animal unnecessary stress and suffering.

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