KwaSizabantu 'cult': KZN social development dept vows to follow up on allegations

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A view of the area of KwaSizabantu.
A view of the area of KwaSizabantu.
Chanté Schatz, News24
  • The KZN Social Development department has called on victims from the KwaSizabantu Mission Church to open criminal cases.
  • It said it wanted to help people deal with trauma and any criminal cases.
  • They also encouraged others to come forward following a 7-month long News24 investigation.

The KwaZulu-Natal Social Development Department says it will make available officials in its offices to follow up on allegations of abuse in the embattled KwaSizabantu Mission Church.

"We will take up this matter with the relevant unit in our department to try to meet with the victims in order to deal with the situation," department spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said on Monday.

The church hit headlines on Saturday after News24 published the results of a seven-month investigation into the affairs of the mission, located in the Kranskop area, and allegations of a range of abuses.

The report also alleged senior members accused of rape had been shielded, and that millions of rand had been laundered in the mission's business operations.

ALSO READ | KwaSizabantu: Stay strong, preacher tells congregants in the face of abuse allegations

Memela said they encouraged more victims to come forward.

Assistance

"We appreciate there are people willing to come forward. We hope more will come forward and get assistance from the department."

He said they wanted to meet with victims to help them deal with their trauma, but also establish criminal cases.

"You have to take them through and help open cases with the police so the [alleged] perpetrators can actually be arrested. After all that has been done, there's going to be consistent support of the victims to ensure that when the case sits, they are able to narrate the story and able to respond to the courts correctly so that they can secure convictions."

READ | Exodus: Uncovering sexual crimes and missing millions at a KZN 'cult'

Memela said support was important.

"Our process is to send social workers and then provide them with psychosocial support so they will be able to cope with every day life. Normally with any form of abuse or rape it takes people a long time to cope with the situation."

He did not want to speculate on incidents, but said churches had to be safe havens for people.

"It seems there could be a lot of abuse from that church. We are not expecting churches to abuse people. They are the people that are expected to give comfort. They must be trustworthy. It is unfortunate that a church finds itself in this situation."

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article and you need someone to talk to, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) on one of these numbers:
  • To speak to a counsellor between 8am and 8pm Monday to Saturday, phone 011 234 4837
  • For a suicidal emergency, call 0800 567 567
  • For the 24-hour helpline, call 0800 456 789.

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