By: Staff Reporter
In a season when SA remains gripped in its fight against gender-based-violence as an unacceptable sojourner in our lives, we are nakedly reminded again of the demon in the story of an Anglican Priest Reverend June Dolley-Major who details a story of her 18-year ordeal to find justice when she suffered the crime of rape at the hand of a male priest who despite the allegations continue to serve as a priest while she is homeless, jobless and left to the treachery of injustice.
I’m an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. I was raped by another priest in 2002 at the College of the Transfiguration in Grahamstown. I was told by my bishop to keep quiet to protect the name of the church. I loved the church, so I kept quiet to protect its name.
I reported the matter a few years ago. I was told by the detective that it is attempted rape as he did not ejaculate inside of me. For years I believed it, but no more. He penetrated me and to me that is rape. Even though it was brief, as I pushed him off, he still penetrated me.
The docket disappeared a few times. I called on numerous occasions. On one such occasion, I was told by the police officer that I need to know that Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is well-loved there. Then I knew that I stood no chance. The Archbishop was bishop of Grahamstown before becoming Archbishop.
Months went by and again after numerous calls, I was told that the case was thrown out, no reason given. In 2016, I also went on a hunger strike, I ended it with Archbishop Thabo Makgoba making promises to me that he would deal with it. He walked away and never looked back, not once did he contact me.
These past four years have been a living hell for me. I’ve been homeless, jobless, hungry, lived on the streets, in a shelter, beaten up and tied up in an armed robbery and so much more. I needed the Archbishop to act. I’m 51, lost everything. What becomes of me, while my rapist lives his life to the fullest, and still in ministry?
[Archbishop released a press statement in this regard which is also herewith included. In response to his statement Rev. Dolley Major responded in the following manner.]
By now, you have probably all seen the press statement of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, in response to my demands. I will briefly touch on it and share my thoughts on it. I am responding to it, in the context of my hunger strike, where there were witnesses around to verify what I am about to say.
In the press release, it is said that Archbishop Thabo Makgoba came out to see me twice, which is correct. He came out to see me respectively on Wednesday, July 1, and the subsequent Saturday, July 4. I never denied this I posted about it. What this press statement fails to say, is what the meetings were about on those two visits. In all honesty, and with many witnesses around and with recordings thereof, the very first meeting on Wednesday, was extremely painful for me.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was cold and callous towards me with his first visit. I told him my demands. He said that he cannot wave a magic wand to help me, it is not within his power to help me. Told me that my perpetrator has his own legal team. Blamed me for going the legal route and insisted that I continued with it. Spoke about “them and me”, making it very clear that I’m not a part of them.
It was patriarchy in my face. Other people standing around started to question the Archbishop and his lack of compassion and pastoral care towards me, and their anger at him refusing to deal with my rape case.
So, I do take serious umbrage to the fact that the Archbishop’s press statement makes it look as if he was so concerned about me, that he came out twice to see me. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. He showed absolutely NO concern towards me.
The press statement also does not say that on that Wednesday night, the Archbishop called ADT thrice and SAPS as well. He cannot deny that it was him, because they all said that the call came from 20 Bishopscourt Drive, and the same complaint was lodged, someone is trespassing on his property. He cannot say that it was a neighbour, in fact the neighbours all supported me. His actions pained me deeply, made me feel like I was a criminal. My own Archbishop called law enforcement to remove me, a woman, a survivor of rape at the hands of one of his priests. Yet SAPS was not once called to remove my rapist.
Then the press statement says that they are pleased to announce that they will be doing an international investigation, as if it was their idea. I’ve been asking for this for years now and was denied it. I was denied it right up until Wednesday, 01 July, at the start of my second Hunger Strike.
Why did I have to go to such extreme measures to get the Archbishop to finally do the right thing?
The Archbishop goes on to talk about the church needing to be a healing presence in society. Wow! He left me 4 years ago at the end of my first Hunger Strike, made certain promises to me then walked off, without turning back. He never once reached out to me, not once. He continued to allow my rapist to minister, knowing full well that I was jobless and homeless and hungry. So, tell me, where was the healing presence in my case and the case of so many other victims? It is so easy to talk the walk, but not to walk the talk. This principle was violated and thus not upheld.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba talks about the Safe Church programme. Why did they not reach out to me after they were formed? What work have they done up until now? Who decides on who serves on this team?
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba requested that I formally register my complaint, which I did today. I attached a copy of the complaint form. It is an ice-cold procedure, to be referred to a link where you need to click on to lodge your formal complaint. If this is how the safe church works, then I’m sorry, it leaves much to be desired. Rape and abuse is extremely traumatic, and when reporting it, they cannot even afford you the opportunity to relay it to another person, instead you need to fill out a form and wait. I had to download an app to open the form. This is wrong on so many levels.
Again, the Archbishop says that the “church’s commitment to justice in society is a faith response and a direct reflection of its divine calling. It is justice that must be sought, and nobody must be allowed to suffer the consequences of injustice.” A double WOW to this statement. Really now Archbishop Thabo Makgoba? I’ve suffered an injustice for many years and you could have stopped it, but you chose not to. I went hungry, homeless, jobless, lived in a shelter, dependent on others for food and accommodation, was beaten up, robbed and so much more. How can you make a statement like this?
You say in your statement that viciousness cannot be tolerated, I suffered under the viciousness of the hierarchy for a few years now, and I saw it in your visit to me on Wednesday. Sad to say, but your press statement carries with it a lot of pain for me.
After you and the other male clergy left on Saturday, one female priest was left behind. In the presence of many witnesses, she too openly shared about her struggle as a woman within the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. She expressed how they suffer under patriarchy and how for over five and a half years the women clergy have been trying to get a meeting with you to express their concerns, but you refuse to meet with them. She went on to say how women clergy just have to keep quiet, so as not to risk losing their position.
This is an area of great concern. You say that you are against Gender-Based Violence and Patriarchy, you point fingers at the government, but your church is bleeding. It is the blood of the women and children.
Please Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, do the right thing.
One last thing, please in all future media statements, please refer to me as Rev. June Major, and not as Ms Major.
Rev. June Dolley-Major
An Anglican Priest
**** Rev. Dolley-Major in her own words details a sad story of abuse, church neglect, injustice and ongoing pain horror. In a colossal sense, hers is the ongoing story of a women priests that must confront patriarchy and male dominance in the Anglican Church. She details a story of being violated in the Church, a community of believers where one must find safety and love. Her 18-year long saga of perpetual injustice chronicles an insensitive renown leader of the Anglican Church, SACC and one who among other positions serves as the Chancellor of University of the Western Cape.
Bishop Makgoba is known for his public opinions on corruption against certain ANC leaders while he silent on the iniquity of others. He recently was on TV stating he is the father of a girl- child and condemned gender-based – violence. Shall we forget how Makgoba had a special prayer meeting to defend a politician when he chose sides against a sitting president of SA? He availed himself to uniquely offer prayers for the minister of finance, Minister Pravin Gordhan, yet he cant extend that opportunity to invite Rev. Dolley – Major into his affluent #20 Bishopscourt homestead to converse as fellow Christians, colleagues and as a father on her served injustice. It increasingly evidence a story of hypocrisy. While Rev. Dolley- Major left Cape Town on Monday, July 6, as she ended her hunger strike and was availed a place in Agulhas, her cause remains a legitimate one that warrants support if we are remotely serious about eradicating the demon of gender-based- violence from our South Africa society.
Among those who have taken up the cause of Rev. June Dolley – Major is the TMOSA Foundation (Thinking Masses of South Africa) a social and economic justice non-profit entity) under the leadership of Bishop Clyde N.S. Ramalaine who is currently writing to the UWC Council to engage Archbishop Makgoba with the view of seeking his suspension premised on the accusations levelled against him by Rev. Dolley- Major.