News24 Adriaan Basson details KwaSizabantu 'cult and victims stories of abuse
The bottled water brand aQuellé is in the spotlight as allegations of abuse emerge from the mission village which produces these products.
A number of major retailers such as Game, Makro, Woolworths, Food Lovers Market, and more, are taking KwaSizabantu products off their shelves after they were exposed to be an abusive and violent cult.
Adriaan Basson, News24 editor, elaborates on News24's 7-month investigation into the KwaSizabantu mission, situated close to the town of Greytown in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands.
It's been a hard, hard road for us and our team to get this story ready...but I am extremely proud of what the team has produced.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
Basson says News24 heard allegations about what was going on at KwaSizabantu in early February this year.
It's almost like a village on its own.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
The mission was founded by evangelist Erlo Stegan in 1970.
Stegan started this mission with his specific beliefs and interpretation of the bible and started amassing quite a big sustainable following.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
The News24 investigation has now exposed shocking allegations of abuse.
Over the years many women and children were abused at this mission, physically, sexually, but also psychologically and spiritually.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
Many of these people have now gone on the record under oath recounting their experiences of abuse at the mission.
He believes these were not isolated cases of abuse.
What we uncovered was much more. This was all linked to the doctrine of KwaSizabantu, where people had to repent for their sins, where little girls or young women who were sexually abused, were beaten and forced to apologise and were punished for being abused,...for in their words 'whores' or 'sluts'.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
He says cult behaviour experts have analysed the information and found it to have key signs of being a cult and explained how a cult works.
It has a very strong central person - in this case, it would be Erno Stegan and his protegee Lydia Dube - a very clear message that everyone believes with no criticism or questioning of the rules.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
Basson says former inhabitants of the group explained how difficult it is to function outside of KwaSizabantu because there are no rules that they understand.
The News24 investigation found a very lucrative commercial arm of KwaSizabantu, Basson says he was shocked to find that aQuellé water was fully owned by them.
It is such a popular brand and you see it in every shop, and their branding and advertising show healthy women and men, which according to the victims and survivors we spoke to say it could not be further from their reality growing up there.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
They also have a dairy farm with the Bonlé brand and also produced avocados and peppers for Woolworths.
Basson believes the authorities knew about the abuse at KwaSizabantu.
I am convinced the authorities knew about this and our investigation will go there.Adriaan Basson, News24 Editor-in-chief
The South African Human Rights Commission has initiated a probe, the KZN Social Development Department is investing the case, and the Hawks are involved in allegations of money laundering at KwaSizabantu, says Basson.
Listen to Adriaan Basson below:
The initiative aims to boost the local tourism industry while offering discounts to South Africans that won't break the bank.Read More
The call coincides with World Stroke Week (28 October - 3 November), which aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke.Read More
Zane Kilian has officially become the sixth accused in the attempted murder of a well-known Cape Town defence attorney William Booth.Read More
The five suspects arrested in connection with Senzo Meyiwa's murder claimed police had the wrong suspects and refused to step into the dock.Read More
Afrostory's new app will give subscribers access to 50 classic, mostly African books for less than R50.Read More
If the outbreak in the Karoo gets too large, it’ll travel to the maize fields in the Free State, warns Professor Frances Duncan.Read More
Epidemiologist Dr Jody Boffa admits that while Covid-19 numbers are up, SA isn't yet experiencing a second wave of the virus.Read More
This was in a written affidavit filed by Cape Nature in Ryno Engelbrecht's court case against CoCT disputing the moving of Kataza.Read More
"I want to compliment the police, but it is far from over," says Gerrie Nel (AfriForum). "They have not addressed the mastermind."Read More
It is being widely reported that the service provider is shutting down, but Tech guru Brendon Petersen says it is not that clear cut.Read More