Rabbi lures youth to lair

Adult chil­dren leave home to live with pas­tor who al­legedly teaches them for­eign ex­change skills

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - LETHU NX­U­MALO lethu.nx­u­[email protected] Con­tin­ued on Page 3

A GROUP of young men and women from Dur­ban have aban­doned their fam­i­lies ap­par­ently at the be­hest of their pas­tor.

Some par­ents are now wor­ried that some­thing illicit may be go­ing on at a house in umh­langa where a group of about 15 peo­ple in their early twen­ties have been liv­ing and work­ing.

This week, one par­ent opened a miss­ing per­son re­port with po­lice af­ter her daugh­ter failed to make con­tact with the fam­ily or re­turn home.

Another par­ent told the Sun­day Tri­bune she was also wor­ried about her daugh­ter’s well-be­ing, while neigh­bours have also raised con­cerns about the strange go­ings-on at the house.

The pas­tor who is re­ferred to as Rabbi, but whose real name is Siza Mad­lala, is a for­mer church key­board player who moved to Dur­ban a few years ago from Jo­han­nes­burg to start his own church known as the House of Grace In­ter­na­tional.

Thembi Miya, of Mar­i­annhill Park, said she sus­pected there were dark forces at play when her daugh­ter Nkanyezi, 20, started fre­quent­ing the church three years ago.

She said her daugh­ter never missed a ser­vice, but usu­ally re­turned from week­day prayers at odd hours say­ing un­em­ployed con­gre­gants were re­ceiv­ing forex trad­ing skills.

The church moved to Dur­ban North and Nkanyezi joined about 15 other mem­bers who were liv­ing in the home leased by the church.

“She had be­come some­one I did not know. Of­ten speak­ing in a dis­re­spect­ful man­ner. In Oc­to­ber she told me she wanted to leave and be at the church full time,” said Miya.

She said a woman named Mys­tery ar­rived at their Pine­town home and told her she had been sent by the church to fetch Nkanyezi. With­out her con­sent, the pair left for Dur­ban North and in the days and months that fol­lowed, com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween her and Nkanyezi dwin­dled un­til she could no longer reach her.

“When we did com­mu­ni­cate it was through Face­book mes­sen­ger and she was now call­ing her­self The Last Born. In our con­ver­sa­tions she would beg me to re­lease her as she wanted to fully com­mit to the church. She said she wanted to be with the Rabbi who had re­named her Hadasa be­cause he was her god.”

The Sun­day Tri­bune vis­ited the home in Dur­ban North and most of the Rabbi’s fol­low­ers were present.

One of the neigh­bours said that last Sun­day po­lice had ac­com­pa­nied some par­ents to the res­i­dence to look for their chil­dren.

“They chant all morn­ing and all night. They make strange move­ments and it’s pretty scary,” said the neigh­bour.

Nkanyezi said she had left her home be­cause she wanted to fulfil the vi­sion of the church of be­com­ing a “king­dom”. She said she had been suf­fer­ing with se­vere de­pres­sion and found pur­pose within a com­pany owned by one of the church mem­bers as a forex trader.

“I didn’t know who I was and what I wanted. I am now a trader for Mishkan Cap­i­tal. All of us who live here sup­port our­selves through our work. The com­pany helps us fo­cus more on our vi­sion hence we choose to iso­late our­selves from ev­ery­one.”

Nkanyezi in­sisted that none of the Rabbi’s fol­low­ers were kept against their will.

“We know what we are do­ing and we are de­ter­mined. We are not try­ing to get any­one’s at­ten­tion or to im­press any­one but we are here to fulfil our vi­sion. Through our work we are build­ing sys­tems and businesses us­ing peo­ple’s nat­u­ral abil­i­ties. I am about my fa­ther’s busi­ness,” she said.

Vusi Dube, a pas­tor and an ANC pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture mem­ber, said this was a se­ri­ous mat­ter which needed ur­gent at­ten­tion. He said the lack of in­ter­ven­tion by church lead­ers in the past led to the Tim Omo­toso or­deal where young women were al­legedly groomed and raped.

“We are all guilty when we do not say any­thing es­pe­cially be­cause this has ev­ery­thing to do with us in the re­li­gious fra­ter­nity. These pas­tors have a ten­dency to iso­late their fol­low­ers and usu­ally give them­selves unique names so as to in­stil fear. This is se­ri­ous and we are go­ing to lose cred­i­bil­ity as gen­uine Chris­tians.”

Ed­ward Mafadza, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at the Cul­tural, Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic Rights Com­mis­sion, said they would have to in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter and come up with solutions.

“If needs be we may have to in­volve in­sti­tu­tions whose man­date is to deal with is­sues of abuse and se­cu­rity. We may also need to en­gage the lead­er­ship of the church to per­suade them to al­low fol­low­ers to be in con­tact with their

CAP­TAIN Nqo­bile Gwala con­firmed that a case of a miss­ing per­son was opened at the Pine­town Po­lice Sta­tion by par­ents of one of the Rabbi’s fol­low­ers.

“Po­lice vis­ited the house in Dur­ban North last Sun­day and found the 22-year-old at the res­i­dence. She told po­lice she was there on her own ac­cord and she had been in con­tact with her fam­ily,” said Gwala.

He said po­lice could not re­move any of those found on the premises be­cause they were all adults who as­sured po­lice that they were liv­ing at the home by choice.

Rabbi Siza Mad­lala could not be reached for com­ment.

| LEON LESTRADE African News Agency (ANA)

THE house in Dur­ban North that is al­leged to be keep­ing young peo­ple against their will.

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