CRL Commission's probe into KwaSizabantu resumes in Gauteng

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KwaSizabantu Mission walked out of the CRL Commission's hearings on its third day of sitting.
KwaSizabantu Mission walked out of the CRL Commission's hearings on its third day of sitting.
PHOTO: Azarrah Karrim, News24
  • The second leg of the CRL Commission's investigation into allegations of abuse at controversial KwaSizabantu Mission is set to resume.
  • The commission will hear further testimony from former members of the mission related to allegations of abuse.
  • It is unclear whether the mission has decided to participate fully in the commission's investigation after accusing the chairperson of bias.

While the CRL Rights Commission is set to resume its investigation into allegations of abuse at KwaSizabantu Mission on Wednesday, it is unclear whether the mission will be participating.

ALSO READ | 'Fatally flawed' - KwaSizabantu Mission slams CRL Commission probe into cult claims

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) launched their investigation into the mission following allegations of sexual assault, physical and psychological abuse, as well as alleged financial crimes detailed in a News24 exposé.

The commission will begin its Gauteng leg on Wednesday after completing its KwaZulu-Natal leg last week, where it heard from numerous witnesses and former members about how they had experienced abuse while at the mission.

During her testimony before the commission, Celimpilo Malinga, explained how the mission slowly cut her and her family off from their extended family.

She said she was expelled from the mission and disowned by her father with nowhere to go when she was accused of having a relationship with an employee of the mission who gave her a chocolate.

Pieter Becker, once a devout member of KwaSizabantu, explained why he believed the mission was a cult.

He explained that if anyone dared to leave the mission they would be ostracised and told they would go to hell.

He spoke of the fear ingrained in the members of KwaSizabantu and the dangerous spiritual significance given to its leader.

However, the hearings ended in a stalemate when KwaSizabantu - called to respond to these allegations - accused the commission's chairperson, Professor David Mosoma, of being biased and demanded he recuse himself.

Lawyers for the mission claimed Mosoma had prejudged the mission based on comments he had made in the media, claiming the mission had been found guilty before hearing their side.

Mosoma and his fellow commissioners vehemently denied this, saying the mission was misreading the media statements, but when he refused to accede to the mission's demands, the mission staged a walkout - refusing to participate in the hearings for the day.

In a letter seen by News24 from the mission's lawyers to the CRL Commission, the mission's attorney, Martus de Wet, claimed the chairperson "fundamentally undermined his ability to fulfil his high task as the head of a chapter 9 institution".

De Wet once again demanded Mosoma recuse himself, saying if he did not, it would be a dereliction of duty.

"We also repeat that as soon as the commission called us to the hearing last Friday, accompanied by a threat of a summons, we immediately furnished them with our detailed written response to the Exodus video part 1, upon which they stated they had decided to initiate a hearing/investigation.

ALSO READ | KwaSizabantu: CRL Rights Commission to commence hearings into human rights abuse allegations

"As was highlighted this morning, as of this morning, obviously none of the commissioners have bothered to read the Mission's said response," De Wet claimed in the letter.

When this matter was raised last week, Mosoma maintained that they did not want to read their response off paper, but wanted to hear from the leaders themselves.

The mission, however, took issue with the particular allegation of "multiple ongoing rapes" at KwaSizabantu, saying the commission should investigate these allegations as a matter of urgency.

These allegations were carried in News24's documentary on the KwaSizabantu Mission, Exodus.

"[I]f the Commission has any information or questions about such alleged rapes in addition to that contained in the said video, Exodus, please would it reduce them to writing and forward it to us. We assure you, as always, to respond promptly," De Wet said.

While the extent of the mission's future participation in the commission was unclear, News24 understands that they would be meeting with the commission next week.

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