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KwaSizabantu Mission and I

The story of Nicoleen Dickinson

While these days in July 2022 the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, was visiting Mission KwaSizabantu and praising KSB in the highest terms at a youth conference there, describing it as an exemplary place where “people could live together in peace and harmony,” Nicky Dickinson was sitting in her apartment near Johannesburg, writing her memoirs of her years at the mission. Her story makes it clear once again: what is going on at KwaSizabantu is completely absurd. And Mr. Zikalala has no idea.  

“The day I walked through the gates of Kwasizabantu Mission in April 2005 I was spiritually burnt out, tired and in a state of depression. I had just survived an attempt of trying to commit suicide, and I needed to find direction and God’s Will for my life. I had left the Salvation Army a few months before, as a Captain, and I had much hurt and feelings of guilt because of leaving. I felt that I had broken my covenant with God by walking away from them.

Lillian was at reception and after making a phone call, I was told that I could stay 1 night, and that I would see a counselor at 7pm. It was a Sunday. I was sent to a rondawel.

That night I saw Kjell Olsen, and was given 3 more days stay. I spent that night in my rondawel calling out to God for mercy, as I had nowhere to go, if I left KSB.

It had been a desire of mine to visit Kwasizabantu since 1986 when I had read the book God among the Zulus, and had at that time been in a very abusive marriage. I got divorced in 1992, and never thought of going to Kwasizabantu until my crisis in 2005! All I could remember was Stanger, and thought the Mission was there.

So a train ride from Johannesburg and a taxi to Maphumulo found me walking through the gates that Sunday.

Well I soon settled in and went daily for counseling, confessing every and any sin I had committed and my few days turned into years.

I volunteered to wash dishes, and lived serving in the kitchen washing dishes and fellowshipping with the workers there. I felt like I was part of this family.

I then went to work at Thembalethu preschool. Kjell had opened the door for me! I could be busy doing what I loved most: being around people and especially children.

By late 2005 I asked Kjell if I could also help at the switchboard. A week later he told me that Uncle Erlo had invited me to lunch at his house. Wow! What an honor. So Kjell and I met with Uncle Erlo and ate lunch alone with him on his verandah. Uncle Erlo asked me about myself, and I felt really special.

A day or so later I was allowed to help at the switchboard. I also helped Kjell at the CFT office, and my days were full!

I met the aunties whilst working at the switchboard. I also joined a choir and was deeply embedded emotionally and spiritually with the way of life at the Mission.

I also met Aunt Katrin and was soon working in the tape room. I had to leave Thembalethu as the tape room was full time. I lived myself out at the Tape Room. Surrounded by all the sermons, helping visitors, recording services, working at the switchboard, it was an amazing time for me.

2007 came and I met boet Fano. I was trained to help him with his physio and during those precious moments I shared my life story with him, and I loved going there.

One Wednesday night Uncle Erlo phoned me through my cellphone! I was so humbled, as he could hardly speak. He was very ill at that time. He asked me if I would be the hostel mother at DSS. This meant that I would have to leave the tape room.

Miss Newlands spoke to Aunt Katrin as I was fearful of telling her I was leaving the tape room. Aunt Katrin liked me. She trusted me. I had stayed in her room and cared for her cats when she had visited family in Germany.

DSS was a new chapter in my life. Being hostel mother, or Matron, as they called it came with a whole set of different rules and regulations.  I could not be too nice, (as I was advised by Miss Langeveld who was the overseer). Some of the rules meant:

  • I had to regularly search through the girl’s cupboards and other personal belongings for cellphones, sim cards, pornography (which included any worldly magazine that had pop stars in them)
  • Any form of letters from boys.
  • Food or sweets in their rooms.
  • Make up or fashion items

Such offenses meant order marks, which when became 100 would mean expelling them.

I was not allowed to hold Bible Study with them, or pray with them. I had to supervise them. Making sure they were quiet, not visiting each other in their rooms, not leaving the hostel grounds by themselves. I had to sit in when they were allowed their weekly phone calls, which they paid for.

If they had a brother in the boys hostel they were not allowed to visit or chat with each other, even during mealtime in the dining room. There was a partition dividing the boys from the girls. They had to eat in silence. No noise!

Walking to services had to be done in absolute silence and in single file.

Their hair had to be short and no braiding was allowed. Braids were seen as devilish. In fact, they were taught that blood would be sucked from them during the night if they wore braids.

There was a teacher who had no tolerance for noise. If she heard the girls through the door dividing learners and teachers, she would enter and hold a passage parade, which meant that all the girls had to line up in the passage and stand still, no moving, for anything from a half hour to two or three hours. I hated this. It made me feel so ashamed that an Afrikaans person was so cruel to black children. I complained about this to Miss Langeveld and Kjell, but nothing was done about it.

My first year there went by, with me adhering to the rules. What gave me an outlet was that I became the school’s librarian, and it was there that I could be “Aunty Nicky” and it was not long before my counter became full of learners at break time! Some of the learners shared horrible incidents that they had gone through at the mission.  Incidents like severe punishment from their fathers if they broke rules.

By 2009 I had read the reports on KSB-Alert, but had shaken it off as disgruntled ex-co- workers. I had never personally experienced any harm. In fact, I was even baptized there, and had no intention of ever leaving.

Sis Thofozi showed me such friendliness and even spoilt me with plates of food when I helped at the switchboard during school holidays. She even told me that she wanted me to one day be her personal driver.  I was at peace within myself. Grateful that God had led me to be part of the chosen who would inherit Eternal Life, as I had found ‘the way’ as life at KSB was termed. I renounced past Christian beliefs such as singing and clapping hands, praying in tongues, wearing long pants and make up, having fancy hairstyles, etc.

Mamezane Mapumulo (neé Maphanga) deserves a section of her own. I had met her in 2006 whilst working at the switchboard.  She often came to chat with me, about herself and her faith. I looked up to her, at her quiet manner, her humbleness.

Mamezane was so happy when I went to work at DSS, and she visited me in my flat, often telling me about any wrong doing that she saw in the hostel. She was not popular with her peers, as she was seen as a snitch. I relied on her and gave her much support.

I had been given a kitten by the workers, and Miss Newlands gave me permission to keep it. The cat was black and white. I called her Bakiti, and she grew up between my flat and the library. The girls liked the cat, and the cat liked the children. I spoke to my cat using terms like ‘my baby’ or ‘my love’, and thought nothing of it. This backfired in 2010 when there was a knock on my door one night and three aunties and Mamezane stood there. Sis Thofozi had sent them, and we sat in my kitchen where they told me that Mamezane had reported to them that I was busy with Satanism as my cat would manifest into my children at night time! I could not believe it! I was told that I was to kill and burn my cat and to bring the body to them. I was shocked and so hurt at Mamezane for doing this. In the end Mrs. Chonco, who had two daughters in the hostel took my cat to the SPCA for me. I had much trouble from this later during the trauma of 2010.

The beginning of the end started during the last six months of 2009 when Uncle Erlo introduced a young girl called Imbali to the congregation. Imbali was the granddaughter of one of the aunties, and had been a Satanist, high up in the ranks and had come to repentance. She was also going to point out fellow Satanists that had infiltrated the mission, especially the school.

Everyone was subjected to her testimony and it was not long before special meetings were held amongst the youth. The hostel girls became fearful.

To our surprise Imbali and her fellow worker Elaine became learners at the school in 2010.

A staff meeting was held, and Uncle Erlo was there as well as Imbali. We were told that a list was being compiled of the names of learners who were Satanists, and that the hostel was full of them. I stood up and voiced my objection, and refuted her claims.

I had kept Kjell updated on everything that was happening and he told me not to worry, that the black people had different ways than us. I started to feel a cooling off of communication between Sis Thofozi and I.

It became a norm for three aunties to knock on my door late at night, after 10pm. They would be covered with blankets and stand in a girl’s room where they were sleeping and suddenly start singing. Imagine the fear: waking up in a dark room with three figures singing. The girls would then be taken to the passage outside nr 3, where they waited for counseling. There they were instructed not to repeat what they heard. Some Grade 7’s told me that if they woke up in the night and one of their roommates was not in their bed it was because that girl was in a meeting under the sea, carrying out a satanistic ritual against them.

Girls became suspicious of each other. I objected and complained to Kjell about these meetings.

Mamezane spent most of her time with the aunties, and we never had personal fellowship anymore.

Around June I was called to a meeting, a ‘special’ meeting. There were about twenty people present.

There we were told that we were pointed out as having spoken with Satan. We were each asked when we last spoke to him. I replied in the negative. I was told that I was to stop singing in the choir and to spend time thinking about my sins. Aunt Katrin also banned me from the tape room where my friend Michelle Grobler worked. I was shunned.

The special meeting continued, and I went with the motive of showing obedience. Kjell said he couldn’t understand why I was going through this. Uncle Erlo sent me a message through Kjell telling me not to confess to anything I had not done.

Sis Thofozi had her three workers do most of the talking, and I was told that my disobedience with not killing my cat was evidence that I was indeed busy with Satan.

There was a man that sat in on these meetings. He worked at AQuelle and we were told that he was not human but a sponge.  He pointed me out as having met him back in 2003 under the sea.

At this stage I wrote an open letter to the co-workers, and told them all that was on my heart. I invited them to summon me before Choir number 1 where they could question me and allow God to bring any involvement with the occult to light.

By October I was very distraught and Kjell along with Miss Newlands made an appointment with Sis Thofozi and the aunties for me to talk the whole thing out with. That never happened as Imbali and Elaine had on that very day disappeared.  I was left alone after that. No more special meetings, just feeling vulnerable and shunned.

Two learners played a role in my life during this time, as they had also been targeted and accused of Satanism and meetings held on the sports field at night, in out of body states. These were Nato van Eeden and Etienne Husslig. Etienne had known about my cat, and he had offered to fetch the cat and put it down in a humane way. Of course this never happened as it went to the SPCA.

Nato suffered severe corporal punishment from his father, and his mom once gave me a chocolate to give him as she was not allowed to comfort him. She said I was his second mother.

Today, 13 years later, I still have a drawing Nato drew me and left for me in the library the day after he was beaten for lifting his arms when he crossed the winning line the day before at an athletics function. Mr. Pretorius had instructed the school during assembly that no clapping or cheering would be allowed at the sports event. That was the last time I saw Nato.

Early December I saw Uncle Friedel and told him what had happened.  He told me not to be a chocolate soldier, and to eat the chicken and to throw away the bones.

The damage had been done, and I left the mission, supposedly to visit family during the holidays. I left as I had entered the mission. Feeling hurt, tired and traumatized.

A few months later I went to Tugela Ferry for prayer and spent six months there. Six months of healing.

Today I have my own tutor center, doing homeschooling and am leaving the end of July this year for Libya where I have been employed by a school to teach.

I have also been through Bible College and received a Diploma, Cum Laude. (4 years’ study)

As I have written this, I have found myself at times to become tearful, as I relived some emotions.”

Nicoleen Dickinson

Written on 12 July 2022 on my own accord.