Peet Botha writes that a TRC option is needed at KwaSizabantu Mission in the wake of the recent allegations to ensure that the 1 500 people employed there don't lose their jobs.
The frankness of the revelations by News24 has surely forced all levels of society to take cognisance of KwaSizabantu Mission (KSB).
I personally believe that KSB is teetering on the brink of a "Korahian" crevice and that exceptional and daring leadership discussions are now needed to save and preserve the future existence of KwaSizabantu Mission and its companies aQuellé and Emseni Farming, as a place where people may be helped.
It would be very short-sighted to associate KwaSizabantu Mission with just evil, as if no good has ever been experienced at the Mission.
I know KSB and its people well.
I lived and worked at the Mission for more than 20 years and was a co-worker, minister and lecturer during that time.
I have written extensively since July 2018 about KSB in my quest to see reformative and restorative policies being implemented to save KwaSizabantu and her congregations from inevitable destruction. I was judged to be a nonconformist, driven out of the fold and shunned into oblivion by a spiritually arrogant core leadership.
Last year I wrote the following to clarify the KSB system:
"It is clear from the above that KSB has completed the circle; the strong smell of possibly being assessed a 'cult' is observable. All the signs are there, whether it has come to be like that intentionally or not. There is an overwhelming 'cloud of witnesses' to support that conclusion. Cultism at KSB must be seen as a social and Christian doctrinal construct. And although it may not be regarded as only physically abusive and destructive, it surely is accountable for the emotional, spiritual, psychological, and physical abuse that has befallen members in the name of KSB.
"If deconstruct has to take place, acknowledgement of wrongs has to go before it. Normally when closed systems, like cults, are confronted they harden their 'hearts' and acknowledgement of any wrong is the last thing on the agenda. Ranks are closed, silence is enforced, denial is in place and strategies are in place to ensure the status quo. This I suppose is understandable in the light that KSB stands so much to lose if the wrongs are acknowledged and restitution is to be made. But, if this attitude will prevail, the same result that has befallen exposed cults in the past will befall KSB, namely total destruction!
"Personally I think KSB, and here I refer to KSB’s leaders ('Power' group) in South Africa, have already gone too far down the path of no 'u-turn' to be able to return to the Biblical way they have preached to the tens of thousands in the past. Every one of them is compromised, some much more than others, and each could run the risk to lose perhaps his/her ministry if the truth should be acknowledged and revealed. KSB leaders, some counsellors and some co-workers have forced so many out of the ministry and community in the past years that they are truly compromised.
"I suggest a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a way of reformation, restoration and reconciliation.
"Witnesses who are identified as victims of gross spiritual and physical violations are invited to give statements about their experiences, and some may be selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of wrongs could also give testimony and request pardon from both civil and criminal prosecution."
So, as I have said above, we are at the point of no return.
We need Biblical visionary leadership and a deep sense of spiritual humility at KSB and within the KSB spiritual expatriates' group to bridge the deep divide that exists now and to reform, reconcile and to do restitution of the conduct and inflicted hurt of the past. KSB leadership has to confess and acknowledge all the hidden individual and corporate "sins" revealed and to be revealed in future.
It will cost both groups on various personal levels.
One positive aspect for KSB in accepting the TRC route would be that they need not acknowledge or deny any wrongdoing for now.
They are innocent unless proven guilty. They can defend and attack any allegation brought against them publicly with legal assistance.
To my mind, the TRC needs to have "teeth".
Meaning, because of the national and international spiritual and economic image and work of KwaSizabantu Mission, the TRC must have legal status.
At this stage the CRL Rights Commission would be the channel as a constitutional body to institute and authorise such a commission (I stand to be corrected though). Please spare me the arguments of the CRL as a dangerous and religious oversight of government into the affairs of the church.
The CRL commission is, in any case, already involved as are the SAPS, Hawks, SAHRC, Department of Labour, Department of Social Services, King Zwelithini, various political entities, and several commercial entities.
Accepting the TRC option may also allow aQuellé and Emseni Farming to continue their economic activities selling water products and agricultural products to the likes of Woolworths, SPAR, Checkers, Makro and others. This could well happen under the patronage of the TRC and keep about 1 500 people economically active.
I would suggest that KwaSizabantu Mission, together with aQuellé and Emseni Farming, are of national and international interest and that a tribunal, rather than the courts, would represent the more Christian option to seek peace, forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation. It might just be the way to save the place that most of us love so much.
KSB has never accepted outside help nor evangelical advice from outside sources.
It has always resisted any interference from the evangelical fraternity and justified their resistance on their own biblical insight. I suppose for a church subscribing to the principle of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (no salvation outside the KSB church), it is not possible to accept ecclesiastical help from outside or listen to KSB nonconformists to the KSB-way of life at the Mission. But, unless biblical wisdom and rationality prevail now at KSB, the institution will implode itself to the detriment of thousands of people.
Perhaps KSB is now at the point so adequately stated by God in Jeremiah 6:16: "This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it'." The Kairos time has arrived for KSB - the right, critical, or opportune moment to act and make things right
Today as an ex-KSB member, I plead with the new leadership at KSB: Lidia Dube, Jabulane Dube, Michael Ngubane, Detlef Stegen, Albu van Eeden, Dietmar Joosten and Ruth Stegen to humble themselves and to meet with the KSB expatriates Koos Greef, Arno Stegen, Barney Mabaso, Gloria Champion, Gert van der Walt and myself to name a few, and together humbly request from the state the formation of a legal and spiritual Truth and Reconciliation Commission to assist in solving the KSB crisis.
- Dr Peet H Botha is an Extraordinary Assistant Professor in New Testament, School for Bible Sciences and Antique Languages, Faculty of Theology NWU. Acting Rector and Registrar of Cedar College of Education, Pastor Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, Pastor (Missionary) KwaSizabantu Mission South Africa, Head of KSB Mission Branch (Pietermaritzburg, RSA), Missionary in Location (KSBTulsa, OK, USA). Senior Lecturer Mukhanyo Theological College.
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