Graham Pugin James Martin Tweet

Fr. James Martin, S.J., shared an image of Fr. Pugin after the shooting via Twitter.

BY ISN STAFF | October 11, 2016

Violent confrontations on South African college campuses resulted in Jesuit priest, Fr. Graham Pugin, S.J., being injured after being shot by law enforcement officers using rubber bullets, on October 10th. According to media reports, including America, Fr. Graham was shot at point blank range near the Witwatersrand campus in Johannesburg where students had taken sanctuary in Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein, while trying to block police from entering a church gate.

According to a statement by Fr. David Rowan, S.J., the South African Jesuit superior, Fr. Graham has been one of the facilitators, along with other clergy and former student leaders, as a peace broker between students and other stakeholders. It also noted that Holy Trinity Catholic Church has served as a “safe and sacred space” for negotiations discussions that involved students. The full statement from Fr. Rowan can be found below.

Video leading up to the shooting via Times Live:

Media Coverage of Fr. Graham’s shooting:
‘Hell Broke Out’ in South Africa; Jesuit Injured by Police (America)
Priest shot, bus burned in violent South African student protests (AfricaNews.en)
‘Hell Broke Out:’ South African Police, Students Clash (New York Times)

STATEMENT FROM FR. DAVID ROWAN, S.J., REGIONAL SUPERIOR, JESUITS OF SOUTH AFRICA: 

Fr. Graham Pugin S.J., who was shot in the face by a rubber bullet at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, has received medical treatment and is recovering. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the order of priests to which Fr. Graham belongs, and Fr. Graham himself, are grateful for the concern that has been shown after the incident. We have received many prayers, well wishes and offers for assistance from across society. We have also received support from the Jesuit General Congregation meeting in Rome at present and the Vatican Ambassador to South Africa, His Excellency Archbishop Peter Wells.

Fr. Graham has been one of the facilitators, along with other clergy and former student leaders, working towards an agreement between the students, management and other stakeholders at the University of the Witwatersrand. All the facilitators have worked hard to create an atmosphere of trust. Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein has served as a safe and sacred space for negotiations, and we hope that it will continue to do so.

Unfortunately, the negotiation process has been stalled and we are concerned by the sense of distrust between all the role players. The high-security presence and clashes between police and students have also heightened tensions, making negotiations, at this stage, much more difficult. The shooting of Fr. Graham has shocked and distressed many people, including students. He, along with the Society of Jesus, remain hopeful that a solution can be achieved.

We believe there needs to be a national mediation effort to resolve the fees issue and stabilise the situation on campuses. We note the establishment of a national government task team on the fees crisis but believe that this alone will not deal with the problem. We believe there needs to be a concerted effort, involving all sectors of society, to deal with the historical context and systemic problems which make higher education inaccessible and unaffordable for millions of poor South Africans.

We stand ready to participate in this mediation effort so that a national solution can be found to the crisis in the higher education sector. We are concerned by the levels of violence and urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint so that an atmosphere conducive to negotiations may return.

We appeal to all involved to pledge themselves to restore peace on and around our campuses.

[South African Jesuits, America]

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  1. […] superior of the Jesuits in South Africa, Fr. David Rowan said in a statement (http://ignatiansolidarity.net/blog/2016/10/11/jesuit-priest-shot-in-south-africa-defending-students-&#8230😉 that Father Graham has been one of the facilitators, along with other clergy and former student […]

  2. […] superior of the Jesuits in South Africa, Fr. David Rowan said in a statement that Father Graham has been one of the facilitators, along with other clergy and former student […]

  3. […] to a statement by Fr. David Rowan with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Fr. Pugin was a facilitator, along with other clergy and former student leaders, in working […]

  4. […] to a statement by Fr. David Rowan with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Fr. Pugin was a facilitator, along with other clergy and former student leaders, in working […]

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