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Re-enactments and Accusations
The documentary film, EXODUS – Uncovering a cult in KwaZulu-Natal, produced by News 24 claims to be the result of a “seven-month News 24 investigation into accusations of gross human rights violations...” This disturbing film makes extensive use of what they call re-enactments, mainly of school children being beaten with plastic pipes and other abuse. The footage used for depicting the South African military were plainly not wearing SADF uniforms, but looked like it came from America. Re-enactments are actors performing, so that hardly constitute authentic evidence. “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbour comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17
Trial by Media
Trial by media can be very destructive. The News 24 exclusive documentary, EXODUS, has a small selection of disgruntled and embittered people who used to be part of the KwaSizabantu Mission. “A man who bears false witness against his neighbour is like a club, a sword and a sharp arrow.” Proverbs 25:18
Refuted by the Testimonies of Thousands
However, there are many hundreds who have had wonderful experiences and openly testify of what a tremendous blessing KwaSizabantu Mission has been for them and what a privilege it was growing up in that protected environment.
It has been my privilege to know KwaSizabantu Mission for over 34 years. As a regular guest speaker, I have sometimes stayed for weeks at a time at the Mission and have many friends there. I have repeatedly visited many of the KwaSizabantu Mission bases across South Africa and Europe. I have seen the abiding extraordinarily good fruit of KwaSizabantu’s ministry in countries as far afield as Mozambique, Angola, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Romania and Switzerland. There is no doubt that KwaSizabantu has been the most extraordinary successful mission station on the continent of Africa.
The Perspective of the King of the Zulus
No one has done more good for the people of KwaZulu than Rev. Erlo Stegen. This has been attested to by King Goodwill Zwelithini; Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and many others. King Goodwill Zwelithini has publicly described Erlo Stegen as “God’s Apostle to the Zulus.”
The Perspective of North West University
North West University has acknowledged the extraordinary contribution of Erlo Stegen to education in KwaZulu. The Mission is a major educator, employer and positive influence throughout KwaZulu/Natal and across the world.
Not that you would know any of that from this extremely biased and hostile horror film produced by News 24. According to this film, KwaSizabantu is a mission of “fear,” “horror,” “rape,” “abuse” and “bondage.” “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” Exodus 20:16
“From the Pit of Hell”
If you believe this film, then life at KSB is “based on fear, intimidation and manipulation.” According to David Engelbrecht, “Erlo Stegen preaches his own brand of religion under the guise of Christianity,” his message is “from the pit of hell!” “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” Proverbs 13:3
A Fountain of Blessing
However, that is not how either I, or my wife, or my four children, or scores of our mission co-workers, or hundreds of overseas guests and thousands of people who have continued to flock to Youth conferences every year and to Ministers conferences, for decades, have seen it. To many thousands of people throughout South Africa and across the world, KwaSizabantu Mission, under the leadership of Erlo Stegen, has been a place of freedom, deliverance, repentance, restoration, revival and, in many cases, healing: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
A Spiritual Oasis Surrounded by a Wilderness of Violence and Abuse
Far from KwaSizabantu being a place of bondage, many have expressed what a joy it is to be in a place where you do not live under the daily fears of crime, violence and abuse that pervades society throughout the rest of South Africa.
The Wide-Angle Lens of Context
According to this News 24 EXODUS expose, several incidents of child abuse, sexual abuse and corruption have occurred in KwaSizabantu over the last 50 years. If that is so those individuals responsible need to be prosecuted. However, there is no doubt that crime, violence, sexual abuse, rape and murder are daily realities throughout South Africa, not only in our streets but in state schools and our government is looting multiplied Billions of Rand of taxpayers’ money, every year.
Distraction from the Real Scandals
One wonders why this distraction at a time when the entire country is being abused, victimised and stolen from by central government? Should we try to pretend that the rest of the country is living in peace, freedom and harmony, while just a few people in this Mission station in the hills of KZN occasionally experience what, in reality, the rest of us have to deal with on a daily basis, throughout the country?
The Need for Checks and Balances
Knowing the depravity of man, evil things can happen, even in a church and at a mission. The Bible teaches the depravity of man and that is the reason why it is absolutely essential to have checks and balances. Centralisation of power, whether in a church congregation, on a mission base, in a municipality, or in a country, is unhealthy and unsafe. Side-lining Parliament and ruling South Africa by a committee of six, who inform us that they “consult the ancestors”, is an unacceptable violation of the Constitution.
Freedom of Speech is Essential
Freedom of speech is good and necessary in a congregational setting and it is even more important on a community and country level. Hence, government and global media platforms’ censorship of what they term Politically Incorrect opinions, is not only an abuse of the Bill of Rights, but a threat to freedom and constitutional law and order on every level. We are being abused by our government and all too often censored in our opinions and restricted in our activities, especially under this unconstitutional, unnecessary and unworkable Lockdown.
Identifying the Abusers
Knowing many of the individuals involved and implicated in this EXODUS expose, it is noteworthy that one of the people accused of sexual abuse, Muzi Kunene, told News 24 that he had been sent, by the ANC, to the Mission in 1979 to spy on them. Later, when the ANC became the government, Muzi Kunene left the mission and joined National Intelligence Service, where he was involved in smear campaigns against political opponents and finally convicted for a brutal murder. He is currently serving a life sentence at Leeuwkop Correctional Centre, outside of Johannesburg. “An angry man stirs up strife and a furious man abounds in transgression.” Proverbs 29:22
Recognising the Accusers
A major source for many of the accusations against KwaSizabantu come from Koos Greeff, who claims that he acted as an informant for the Security Police, spying on KSB and those who came there. “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.” Exodus 23:1
As I have been a Missionary to Persecuted Churches for over 38 years, travelling in 42 countries, involved in 8 wars and 3 revolutions, it is clear to me that this smear campaign against KwaSizabantu Mission is part of a wider Psychological Warfare operation to discredit and displace the Mission as part of a communist land grab. Coming during a time of official ANC/EFF policy of Expropriation Without Compensation, it would appear that KSB is being set up as a target for disinformation, discrediting and displacement.
Obviously, communists would like to see such an effective Christian Mission silenced. Even more the forces of hell behind it hate this vibrant Christian community, which has been so mightily used of God for over 5 decades. “Therefore, lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking.” 1 Peter 2:1
Analysing the Accusations
Breaking down the blanket statements made by the disgruntled ex-members of the Mission who formed the bulk of this EXODUS film, even should one chose to accept their version of the events, without knowing any of the context, or what those accused would say in response, it is clear that much of the reported abuse was done by people who are no longer part of the Mission, or who were family members. The virginity testing reported on, for example, was done by Zulu women to Zulu children as part of their KwaZulu community traditions and was not the policy of the Mission. “Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbour has put you to shame? Debate your case with your neighbour and do not disclose the secret to another; lest he who hears it expose your shame and your reputation be ruined.” Proverbs 25:8-10
The Professor’s Perspective
In the film, Professor Dion Forster of the University of Stellenbosch, describes elements of a cult as: “psychological abuse,” “deprived of food, sleep and fulfilment of sexual desires…” These he terms as abusive. He mentioned: “belief in angels, demons and spiritual powers,” as cultic and abusive. “Telling people that they may be separated from God in eternity” and that God exacts Retribution, is to him abuse. Those are some strange definitions of a cult. However, when asked if he thought KwaSizabantu Mission was a cult, he did not think it was, but said that: “If the allegations are true… then there are some troubling signs of some cultic tendencies in aspects of the Mission…”
What is a Cult
According to Websters Dictionary (1828), there are numerous meanings attributed to the word cult, including: “A religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society.” Traditionally, Christians have identified as cults those who have a false Christology, denying either the Deity or humanity of Christ, a false Soteriology, denying Salvation by the grace of God alone, based upon the Atonement of Christ on the Cross of Calvary, received by Faith. Cults traditionally forbid their adherents from receiving teaching from any outside source. By all these standards and definitions, KwaSizabantu, under the leadership of Rev. Erlo Stegen, has emphatically not been a cult.
KwaSizabantu Mission is Protestant and Evangelical
Under the leadership of Rev. Erlo Stegen, KSB’s Christology has been orthodox, as has their Soteriology. Over the years, they have invited many famous, well respected international Christian leaders to their pulpit and conference programmes. The radio station programmes broadcast a wide range of respected Bible teachers. There has never been any restriction on the Christian books brought in and made available to their people. KwaSizabantu members hold to the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed and their Basis of Faith is in agreement with mainstream Protestant Evangelical Christianity.
Prejudice and Subjective Condemnation is Not Helpful
Unfortunately, these days, “cult” is often loosely used to refer to any religious views that the person concerned does not like. That kind of subjective standard makes the term more prejudicial and pejorative than objective and helpful. “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbour: I am the Lord. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbour and not bear sin because of him.” Leviticus 19:16-17
Research the Facts
Those who want to have a better understanding of what has been going on at KwaSizabantu Mission, need to read Dr. Kurt Koch’s landmark book, God Among the Zulus, or view the films, When God Comes Down and Erlo – 60 Years. One should also visit the www.kwasizabantu.com website, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to visit this extraordinary work of God.
Opposition is Inevitable
As Rev. Erlo Stegen declared: “Whenever God is at work, the devil is also there to do his dirty counter work. I am of the opinion that often, the depth of God’s work can be measured by the amount of opposition encountered.”
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
40 Years of Revival at KwaSizabantu
Erlo Stegen and the Revival Among the Zulus
Testimonies of Transformations
God’s Word Above All Things
God Among the Zulus