KwaSizabantu: SAHRC investigates 'human rights violations conducted in name of religion'

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
KwaSizabantu.
KwaSizabantu.
Chanté Schatz
  • The SAHRC says its provincial office will investigate the serious allegations of human rights abuse levelled against KwaSizabantu.
  • It viewed the allegations in a serious light, said SAHRC CEO advocate Tseliso Thipanyane.
  • The CRL Rights Commission has asked those directly affected to share their stories to assist its official probe.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will investigate the serious allegations of abuse levelled against KwaSizabantu in KwaZulu-Natal, SAHRC CEO advocate Tseliso Thipanyane has confirmed.

"What is [of] concern for the commission are the human rights violations conducted in the name of religion," Thipanyane said on Tuesday.

"The SAHRC respects the right to freedom of religion, opinion and belief, however this right cannot be exercised in blatant contravention of human rights as has been alleged in this matter."

READ | aQuellé pulled off shelves at Makro, Game, as Food Lover's cuts ties with KwaSizabantu companies

News24, after a seven-month investigation, revealed allegations of gross violations of human rights and alleged money laundering at one of Africa's biggest missions, founded 50 years ago in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

This has resulted in a flood of personal accounts from other former mission members sharing their own traumatic experiences at one of the biggest mission stations on the continent.

News24 recently reported on the alleged experiences of six women, who claim to have been raped, sexually abused, molested or assaulted at the mission as far back as the 1980s.

Military

Koos Greeff, a once-respected leader at the mission, said he had acted as an informant for the apartheid government's Military Intelligence and Security Branch with the blessing of the KwaSizabantu leadership.

His alleged handler had moved to the mission in 1994.

The Hawks also confirmed to News24 that the Pietermaritzburg serious commercial crimes unit was investigating the allegations of fraud at KwaSizabantu.

READ | CRL Rights Commission launches official probe, urges former members to come forward

The mission has labelled the allegations levelled against it as a smear campaign.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) had, after the release of the series, urged anyone directly affected by alleged human rights abuses at KwaSizabantu Mission to share their stories to assist its official probe.

Today, a multibillion-rand establishment, KwaSizabantu owns aQuelle water, and supplies fruit and vegetables to the country's biggest supermarkets.

Thipanyane said the SAHRC viewed the allegations in the News24 series in a serious light and has asked its provincial office to investigate.

"The commission is also pleased to note that the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has also launched its own investigation into the cult and that retailer Woolworths has also stopped trading with the group in light of these serious allegations."

KwaSizabantu founder Erlo Stegen and his protégé, Lidie Dube, are two of the active directors in Emseni Farming, Ekhamanzi Springs, which owns aQuelle, and the KSB Trust.

Woolworths, on Tuesday, confirmed it had "ceased all orders with Emseni Farming while we await further information from them".

aQuelle, in a letter to its retail clients on Monday, said it had appointed an "external panel consisting of legal, political, business and grassroots level individuals" to investigate the allegations published by News24.

Massmart Holdings, owner of Makro, and Pick n Pay told Business Insider it had asked the supplier for answers to the allegations.

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.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 210 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 373 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 992 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.45
(-1.47)
ZAR/GBP
20.61
(-1.49)
ZAR/EUR
18.44
(-1.16)
ZAR/AUD
11.35
(-0.74)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(-1.20)
Gold
1776.65
(-0.54)
Silver
22.60
(-0.10)
Platinum
962.50
(+0.06)
Brent Crude
47.90
(0.00)
Palladium
2364.69
(-1.94)
All Share
57091.89
(-1.26)
Top 40
52375.50
(-1.22)
Financial 15
11158.56
(-3.62)
Industrial 25
78965.65
(-1.16)
Resource 10
52703.42
(-0.19)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo