Christian care centre’s ‘Hitler’ speaks

2014-06-29 15:00

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Dressed only in a pair of underpants, curled up in the corner of a room without lights, windows, a toilet or proper ventilation, a male resident of the controversial Noupoort Christian Care Centre, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, tries to shelter himself from the freezing night.

A former pastor of the centre, who is described by some residents and parents as the “Hitler of Noupoort”, leaked this shocking security photograph to City Press’ sister publication Rapport this week.

The photo, taken on May 8, shows how the man confined in the rehabilitation centre in the Northern Cape Karoo town had to undergo the most “brutal” and “feared” punishment – isolation in a cell that is known as “the cage”.

Six independent sources confirmed the cage is used to punish those who break the rules, sometimes for as long as eight days.

When a person is detained in the cage, they are not permitted to sit or lie down between 4am and 10pm.

To enforce this, a “Satan’s mixture” of Jik, Jeyes Fluid and Handy Andy gets poured on to the floor, burning any skin that comes into contact with it.

The cell is also located above the centre’s walk-in freezer, which means temperatures drop well below freezing in winter.

Detainees are not given any blankets or mattresses and are forced to use a bucket or a sawn-off 2-litre plastic cool drink bottle as a toilet.

Pastor Gerald Snyman, who is from Krugersdorp and was the manager of Noupoort for 10 months, leaked a dossier of security photos after he was suspended three weeks ago.

Pastor Sophos Nissiotis is the director of the care centre and Snyman’s former boss, whom he claims “sits in his luxury home in Jeffreys Bay, which is paid for by addicts, where he lies on his bed all day and dictates [what must happen], like a cult figure”.

He said: “I had to do terrible things. One night, I forced a girl against a wall and tied her with sheets because she refused to cooperate. She screamed so loudly, the police eventually came around.”

Nissiotis told City Press that no parent ever complained to him about the cruel treatment they received at Snyman’s hands.

“As we have frequently pointed out in the past, Noupoort has never been found guilty of a criminal offence.”

He also referred to various letters, newspaper reports and website updates from parents who had praised the centre and

its work in the past. One of the parents, Marlize Clarke, writes that her son was recently held in the programme, but that she still had faith in the Noupoort system.

“I salute you and all the hard work that you do for a system that works and the fact that you care enough to get my child back on his feet.”

Siphokazi Ndlovu* sent her eldest child to Noupoort for help with his dagga addiction, but told City Press he “came back more broken” than when she sent him there.

Despite reports from the centre that he was doing fine, Ndlovu said she realised something was wrong soon after her son arrived. “He told me that they sometimes spoke to him in Afrikaans, even though he told them he didn’t understand.”

Noupoort kicked Ndlovu’s son out, but she says she still hasn’t been repaid the R50?000 she forked out for the programme.

“My child is now on antidepressants and has started smoking dagga again. He is bitter and angry. He hasn’t slept through a single night.”

*?Not her real name

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