- Pieter Becker, a former member of KwaSizabantu, has told the CRL Commission how the Christian mission possessed the characteristics of a cult.
- He said the mission ostracised those who left, condemning them to hell, and ruled through fear.
- Becker added the mission also "controlled the minds of people" - a characteristic of a cult, he said.
Those who dared to leave the KwaSizabantu Mission were ostracised, told they would go to hell and they had left the way of God - all of which are characteristics of a cult, according to a former member of the mission, Pieter Becker.
On the second day of the CRL Rights Commission's probe into allegations of abuse at the mission, Becker spoke of how it possessed cult-like qualities - ruling through fear and condemning those who left.
"KwaSizabantu denies that they are a cult; show me one congregation that's a normal congregation where if you leave … they ostracise you.
He said members of KwaSizabantu have only "experienced a God who is hard without mercy, a cruel God".
While people at the mission were ruled through fear in this way, those who left still retained this fear, Becker added.
"People who leave KSB live in fear, people at KSB as well - they fear hell, they fear the leaders and the fear each other.
"You won't even speak to your friend if something is troubling you because your friend might go and confess and if he confesses first, you're in big trouble.
"They have total mind control over people, you dare not question."
Becker said this was typical of a cult - "they control the minds of people".
When asked what his understanding of a cult is, he replied:
Becker added a cult would also ostracise people the way KwaSizabantu had done.
The chairperson of the commission, Professor David Mosoma, said: "In a cult environment, you speak to what is prescribed, there is one centre of authority and the activities are all secretive - you don't divulge what is happening inside - do you think these are characteristics of KwaSizabantu?"
Becker replied: "Yes, for sure," adding there were meetings in which people were asked to leave their phones so that nothing was recorded.
While KwaSizabantu has established an "independent review panel" to investigate the claims, it has, at the same time, dismissed the litany of human rights abuse claims as merely part of a "smear campaign".
It has also slammed the commission, saying its investigation was "fatally flawed".
The hearing continues.