A Pietermaritzburg High Court application by kwaSizabantu Christian Mission director the Reverend Erlo Stegen for an interdict to stop his brother and two breakaway mission pastors from making defamatory allegations against his nephew was on Wednesday adjourned until the end of the month.
If granted, the interdict would prevent Stegen’s brother, Bodo Stegen, and breakaway kwaSizabantu pastors Barney Mabaso and Phangumusa Mntungwa, from “publishing, uttering, writing or in any other way claiming” that Erlo Stegen’s nephew, Dieter Stegen, fathered a son, Paul Mkhwanazi (8), born on June 20, 1992, after an “unduly intimate relationship” with the boy’s mother, congregation member Khululiwe Mkhwanazi.
A DNA test carried out by the Natal Blood Transfusion Service in February concluded that Dieter Stegen could be “excluded” as the biological father of the boy although Mabaso, Bodo Stegen and Mntungwa have all said in their replying affidavit that the test results could have been falsified since no affidavit from the Blood Transfusion Service manager was given to the court.
In his court affidavit, Erlo Stegen said he has heard numerous “defamatory and slanderous” reports against his nephew and the mission, including calls that all funding to the mission should be stopped until the matter is resolved. Stegen also said he believes he has lost around 300 congregation members, who walked out after the allegations were made known.
Mabaso said in his affidavit he resigned from the mission last July after an alleged cover-up by mission leaders of the kidnapping of leading member Lydia Dube in 1997. Mabaso staged a walk-out with over 400 congregation members.
In his response to Stegen’s affidavit, Mabaso denied his decision to break away from kwaSizabantu had anything to do with the matter of the boy’s paternity, alleging instead that his relationship with the mission became strained after the way they dealt with the kidnapping.
He alleges that the interdict application is a retaliation by Erlo Stegen for his breaking away from the mission.
Mabaso also denied he described the kwaSizabantu leaders as “fallen men led by demonic spirits”, as claimed by the interdict applicants.
Mabaso, Bodo Stegen and Mntungwa all said they were told about rumours circulating at the mission concerning Dieter Stegen’s “promiscuity”, which they alleged have become “common knowledge”.
Although kwaSizabantu Mission regularly produces top-grade achievers, it has made headlines in recent years after allegations of cult-like activities, pupil-beating, virginity testing and excommunications emerged. Newspaper reports have also linked the mission to allegations of shady activities by apartheid-era military intelligence structures.
The interdict hearing will be held in the high court on May 30.