Wildlands will no longer be one of the 8 Mile Charities at the 2021 Midmar Mile.
The organisation, which falls under the WildTrust, made the decision following reports of human rights abuses at the KwaSizabantu Christian Mission, owner of Ekhamanzi Springs, which supplies aQuelle bottled water — the title sponsor of the race.
“We can no longer ignore the damaging reports in the public domain,” Wildlands’ campaign co-ordinator Buyi Makhoba-Dlamini said.
“Pending the outcome of the investigations, we will reconsider our future involvement in the event.
“Our conservation projects are at risk of losing much-needed funding but we stand in solidarity with the millions of South Africans who experience or have experienced gender-based violence and abuse.”
Over the past few years, through the 8 Mile Club, Wildlands has been able to raise over R1 million to support rhino conservation efforts carried out by its team at the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve.
Last month, race director Wayne Riddin confirmed that Aquelle would remain the title sponsor of the Midmar Mile, which is set to take place on February 13 and 14.
Founded in 1970 by South African evangelical and revivalist preacher Erlo Stegen, the mission has come under scrutiny after News24 reported widespread misconduct by church members, including rape and beatings.
The revelations have resulted in business partners of Kwasizabantu and its affiliates cutting ties or suspending their dealings with the mission.
Responding to the allegations against members of KwaSizabantu Mission, Ridden said: “... we must allow the judicial process to take its course. We are in full support of the KwaZulu-Natal Premier to allow the court of law to pass the judgement before any action is taken.”