News24 has received letters from people who have lived or currently live at KwaSizabantu Mission. In the letters they claim that News24's coverage of abuse allegations against the mission is biased. Read the letters below:
Were the rape cases not reported to the police?
It is with sadness that I read all the negative responses about the KwaSizabantu Mission. From the reports I get from friends, many people responded positively about the mission but to my surprise, very few of these positive responses are published. Only the negative side is published extensively.
I am acquainted with the mission for 45 years now and have been staying here permanently for the past 13 years. Here I found peace and healing, as well as what the Bible says in Philippians 4:7: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Mr editor [Adriaan Basson], do you have that peace?
There are thousands of people during the past almost 60 years who can testify to what the mission did for them to find healing and true salvation (which is the whole purpose of life) and the vision and mission of the KwaSizabantu Mission.
The fact of the matter is that I cannot join a hockey club and then insist to play tennis there. They will tell me to rather go and join a tennis club.
This is what is happening at the mission. People want to be part of this mission where we strive to be an example to the world. But they want to do their own thing and make the narrow road as wide as possible and expect the mission to be satisfied with that.
Every person staying here on the mission does so willingly. The gates are open, and they can leave if they are not happy here. Nobody is kept here against his/her will. The truth, however, is that through time many people stayed here on the mission because of free housing, free electricity and water, free food, and many, many other privileges although not really wanting to do so (and aQuellé pays for it). Deep in their hearts, they long to be like the world (to play tennis at a hockey club) and they keep on criticising and exaggerate incidences to make it look like terrible offences. People are not chased away here but their own sins make them feel so uncomfortable that they eventually prefer to leave and then blame the mission. I remember when I first came here how uncomfortable I felt when God, not the mission, convicted me of my sin and the need for a saviour, Jesus Christ.
I am well informed about certain people (not the mission) who did things that they should not have done and how the mission tried to help them to turn from their wrongdoings and to make right what they have done wrong, but to no avail. They prefer rather to leave than to change their ways. And now the mission is blamed.
I'm not indifferent to rape allegations but a story always has two sides and up to now the mission had little chance of putting their side on the table. They were even condemned by the CRL [Rights Commission] before the commission heard the other side of the story. The mission has been working closely with the police all these years in criminal cases and is still prepared to do so. Were these rapes reported by the victims? If not, why not? Why only now all of a sudden? The mission cannot act if they are not aware of the crimes.
It is also a pity that people only tell their versions and don't explain the events that led to the so-called abuse. If people knew the true stories, all these matters would change and be put in perspective.
- Elsa Bosman, KZN
I never experienced what News24 has reported on KwaSizabantu
The allegations published by News24 about KwaSizabantu after their seven-month investigation are not anything similar to what I have experienced. I believe they are false and misleading. The term "smear campaign" is so true.
My first visit to KwaSizabantu Mission more than 35 years ago, when I was only about six years old, made such a positive impact on my life. My parents were not happily married and after only one weekend at KwaSizabantu, God, in His grace, began to heal their broken relationship and their broken lives. My dad was raised without any knowledge of God and my mom had a difficult childhood. I was not born into a Christian home.
For many years after that first visit, our family visited and stayed at KwaSizabantu for short periods. When I was 17 years of age I stayed at KwaSizabantu for about 10 months.
I have now lived in Perth, Australia, for more than 13 years as my husband works here.
We have been to many churches in Perth but have not experienced even one place that helps people like KwaSizabantu Mission does. In fact, if someone was involved in the occult (Perth is the occult capital of Australia), drug or alcohol addiction, pornography (or anything similar), and wanted to be set free, my suggestion would be for them to seek God's help and if possible, go to KwaSizabantu Mission.
We frequently still listen to the messages preached at KwaSizabantu. I am so grateful to the Lord for His grace in keeping us faithful to Him. God is to be praised.
I am indebted to KwaSizabantu Mission. They helped me when I was in need of a saviour and showed me the love of Christ. Uncle Erlo [Stegen] also showed me by his selfless life and what it means to take up the cross daily and follow Christ. Praise be to God for KwaSizabantu Mission. It is the place where I was helped.
FB Meyer, in his book Christ in Isaiah, says: "The prime blessedness of the kingdom of heaven is for the poor in spirit, the persecuted and the tempted, the wandering sheep and the famishing child."
- Kirsty van Tonder, Perth
KwaSizabantu saved my marriage
My husband and I have been with the KwaSizabantu Mission since 1980.
We went there because of problems in our marriage and received much help and prayerful support. We were invited by others who had received help there as well. It was such a relief to find a place where we could be helped.
Our problem was kept completely confidential and I soon realised that only God in His great mercy and kindness worked in our lives.
I hold Reverend Erlo Stegen in great esteem and yet he is so humble, always giving selflessly wherever there is a need. Many times I saw him giving to the people and my domestic worker, whose house burnt down, was helped by Reverend Stegen as well.
There was always a place at the mission and when we visited, they would make room for us. We felt comfortable and received meals at no cost to ourselves. We were never asked for money. We never felt threatened in any way.
Our family received salvation and help through Reverend Erlo's prayerful ministry. Where we thought there was no help for us at all, we were helped!
Seemingly, there has been very little effort and time to give testimonies of people who have been helped over the years. Yet there has been so much inflated negative and biased reporting. It seems that minds have been made up before the truth is revealed.
- Graham and Nina McNeil, KZN