The wondrous career of Lidia Dube
Death, Kidnapping, Witch Hunt
Proudly she tells the audience about her background: She was the leader of a childhood gang, bullying the neighbourhood into doing what she wanted. She goes into detail about her childhood escapades, proudly describing the power she wielded by intimidating young and old in her community.
I sit listening to this “testimony” which is supposed to be descriptive of the saving grace of God from sin, but all I can think of are the words in Dr Peter Hammonds Book, Character Assassins: “All too many children who are bullies grow up to be character assassins as adults”.
I wonder silently if she has ever read this book which was given as a personal gift to each co-worker at KSB, and endorsed by Rev Erlo Stegen director of KSB Mission. Obviously not, for she is the ultimate Character Assassin.
The story I relate below is my personal experience with Lydia Thofozi Dube, whom I will call LTD. I hope to give an insight into our daily lives under her iron fist.
Children’s Services (Meetings)
In 1974 LTD started what was to become the bi-annual Youth Conference at the KSB mission. We were taken to the mission by our parents to attend, what was called “Gods working among the children”. I was a fearful child, insecure and afraid of not fitting in. As an only child I longed to belong to a group and would have done anything to be in the “in” crowd. In this context I attended those meetings which were intense sessions. Yes, we were taught out of selected Bible portions, but along with this came sessions of naming and shaming. Other members of the group were called on to point out “sins” that we had committed, gossiping, talking about the opposite sex, being too loud and rambunctious, and not being “serious” about the Lord. These were painful and mortifying sessions of humiliation and fear. Each “service” was a dread because you never knew what calamity would hit you next.
On the other side our parents felt an obligation to force us to attend these meetings, as it was not seen favourably by the mission if you did not force your child to come to a repentance in whatever way it took. Parents whose children were regarded as wayward or undisciplined were made to feel as failures in their Christian faith.
The lowest point of these services came at a time when we children were taken away from our parents for weeks on end and were severely beaten for “sins” known or unknown. These beatings were meant to bring us to a repentance and to make us into Christians.
LTD was the leader of these services, and her word was law. I soon learnt that keeping her happy and pleasing her was the way to live a relatively “normal” childhood, because she was the person who would pronounce you a good Christian or not. Even as children we got the unwritten rule that the better “Christian” you were seen to be, the more popular you were amongst the leadership, and in with the elite.
It was at this time that the concept of not hiding any sin was introduced to us. This meant that if you had heard, seen or been involved in anything that was considered sin, you had to confess or report it to your counsellor. If LTD was your counsellor it brought you a lot of benefits, because she had the power to elevate your standing in this spiritual hierarchy which existed at the mission. The more dirt you could dish on your peers and even adults (that was the ultimate scoop), the higher you would rise in the hierarchy. You were then known as “burning for the Lord” because you tolerated no sin around you. The poor people whom you had then exposed were worked over by a kangaroo court of KSB co-workers. As you can imagine, for an immature child/youth and sadly some adult this would become the ultimate tool to get your revenge on a person who had slighted/hurt you in some minor way. We feared each other because you never knew when someone would go and report you, and the awful shunning and interrogations before the ecclesiastical kangaroo court would begin.
This was the breeding ground of LTD’s henchmen: she would single out people she liked or trusted, make them feel privileged to be part of an elite group, and entrust you with secrets, information and confidences not known to the others. The other side of the coin was that if you fell into her bad books, you were shunned by your peers, made to feel left out, and not worthy of being a Christian at all. It was a form of spiritual peer pressure where as a child the only important thing was not your life as a Christian, but as a confidant of LTD.
From youth leader to church leader
We were told that LTD had become deathly ill, so critical in fact that her life was in danger. The doctors did not seem to know what was wrong with her, and a group of mission elders retreated with her to a remote farmhouse where they sat around her deathbed, praying for her. One by one families visited her, crying and praying that the Lord would do a miracle and heal her.
One day the message went out: LTD had died and come back to life. During her death she had had a personal conversation with Jesus and been sent back to life as a comfort to her grieving family. This was hailed as one of the greatest miracles of the revival, and to this day it is a much debated and disputed issue. There was no doctor to confirm her death, but it was said that the Zulus have the ability to tell if a person is dead or not.
For many months this was the topic of every sermon, and LTD told her story over and over again. Visitors to the mission were always told the story of her death, and it was a prime example of the miracles that took place in the revival. Her experiences in “heaven” then became part of the doctrine of the mission, and this was believed to be God’s revelation to the mission on how to live your life as a Christian. LTD’s position in the mission’s leadership was secured; she was now a famous personality in the mission circles, and an authority over the mission members, especially the co-workers.
She was treated with kid gloves by all and sundry; she could do no wrong, and what she demanded was done. Because of her serious sickness she was treated in a special way. She could not travel in the mission’s bus which was used to go on outreaches and had to have a comfortable private car to transport her. She was not able to sleep in dormitories as the others did but was always given the best and most comfortable accommodation. Her food was specially prepared by a person now devoted to her personal care and well-being, and she was not able to eat normal food like all the others, or indeed drink what everybody else drank, but Coke was the only healthy drink for her medical condition. As a young child I would look on in wonder and think that it must be a great sickness to have if you got such nice food!
LTD formed a choir of selected young co-workers, which she said was a replica of the amazing choir she had heard in heaven. The choir, known as Choir No 1 was the new “elite” group at the mission, and went out to every outreach and invitation from other Christian organisations and churches. They travelled overseas to Europe and to Israel, and being called by God to sing in this choir was regarded as the ultimate privilege at the mission.
Choir No 1
The choir was now the driving force of the mission work at KSB, and its members regarded as a level above other co-workers. Daily meetings were held which would last for hours, often the whole day, and LTD indoctrinated the members with her version of Christianity. The learning of songs became a hectic process by which a new song (often in a foreign language) had to be learnt in a matter of days. The members were then called up to sing the new song as a solo in front of the whole choir, and if you failed to pull it off you were publicly shamed and punished for not being spiritual enough that God could do a miracle and teach you to sing a piece out of Handel’s Messiah as a solo overnight! No notes or lyrics were allowed to be followed during singing, to show that this was indeed a heavenly choir inspired by God, with no conductor to keep the rhythm because all were so one I spirit that this was no needed.
If you felt called to join the choir, you had to learn a repertoire of approx. 200 songs off by heart in a matter of weeks. You then had to stand in front of the whole assembled choir and sing a solo of any song that was thrown at you. Those who were musically gifted could pull this off, but those poor souls who had a bad memory or were just not gifted in learning so much in such a short time were rejected and relegated to a lesser standing as co-workers. The fear and horror of these processes was something that the choir members whispered about in secret, dreading the day when LTD would have the brain wave to demand a solo from you. Strangely enough although she herself sang in the choir she was never put through this harsh process. The stress and anxiety of this process made some physically and mentally sick, because of the consequences of public shaming and punishment. Punishment was meted out in the form of not being allowed to sing for long periods of time. This was also the case if you were in trouble for some sort of “sin” you had been reported for. The whole mission knew this, and when you were not singing in the choir you were shunned by the mission community because obviously you had done some evil thing.
The first choir rebellion
In the 1970’s a small group of choir members started to talk about the hash and draconian way in which LTD was ruling the co-workers. They decided to take action against her by reporting her to the director of the mission. These meetings were held in secret, and a plan of action was formed. Unbeknown to them a family member of LTD overheard the plan and reported the plot to LTD. The consequences were dire; the leader of the group was expelled from the mission, and others were punished with shunning and public shaming. The result of this incident was that LTD became untouchable. Everybody got the message that you dare not go against her or you will be banished from the Christian community which had become your home. LTD had the full support of the mission directorate and going to complain about her only made it worse, because like the bully that she was, she would make your life hell afterwards. The best way to deal with the situation became to shut your mouth, pander to her whims, and do as you were told.
The second rebellion
Once again a few of the choir members dared to show their dissatisfaction at the often cruel and unjust treatment of the mission community by LTD. She did what was to become her trademark; she would expose the individual’s sins which had to be confessed to mostly her and use them against these individuals. She assassinated their characters by public shaming, kangaroo courts and intense interrogations which went on for hours and days. She managed to demolish these people who then left because they could not take the pressure. One of the favourite methods of getting rid of an unwanted co-worker, was to accuse them of a sin, and them send them to their traditional home to “go into prayer for repentance” about the matter at hand. Depending on your status, you were then either forgiven and could come back, or were just never heard of again.
I personally witnessed two adults being beaten for their sins in front of the choir. Off course LTD never did it herself, but her henchmen did it at her instigation. While these beatings or shamings were in progress, LTD would sit there grinning in amusement at the victim’s pain. I witnessed this strange behaviour on numerous occasions. She threatened to beat me for something that I had said in confidence to a friend, who went on to report me.
The staged kidnapping
I will not go into detail about her own kidnapping that LTD staged, it’s documented in other articles for the reader’s information. This incident split the church, LTD was sent to her traditional home, and KSB was never the same again. She had been stripped of her power, exposed for her devious behaviour and lost all credibility. She then “repented” and was allowed to come back to the mission. The trust between her and the co-workers was however irreparably damaged. She was no longer a trusted councillor to whom you confessed your innermost thoughts and sins, but was just an ordinary member of the mission.
A few years went by in which there was a reprieve from the stress of her iron rule. LTD in the meantime was not idle but covered her status of shame with many sicknesses for which she had numerous elective procedures. Very often we were told she was at deaths door, and slowly sympathy was gained for her, because the ordeal of her shaming had made her so sick.
During this time, she slowly gathered a group of co-workers around herself, who had been “nobodies” during her reign as leader, and she confided confidential matters about the mission, individuals and herself to them. This group became her new inner circle who did her bidding and pandered to her. Through them she would organise and arrange matters about individuals, such as shunnings, and also the events taking place at the mission. She worked in the background and slowly increased her power base.
In one-on-one conversations LTD changed the narrative of her kidnapping, making herself the hero and victim. The individuals felt honoured to be taken into her confidence, and so she increased her following and power base.
From 2011 to 2019 followed a period of witch hunting where LTD eliminated her enemies. She called secret meetings where she planned the taking down of all individuals she called enemies. In sessions that lasted up to 10 hours, her cohorts would publicly call out co-workers who had spoken against her, criticized her or offended her. These were in turn demolished mentally and psychologically by them, humiliated and shunned. Grown men and women were reduced to a shaking mess of tears as the accusations rained down on them. Fear knew no bounds, and silence was almost a guarantee. Distrust and division were complete and LTD had grasped power completely.
LTD never does her own dirty work; her cohorts Thembi Ximba, Nthomiyenkhosi Hlophe, Jabu Majola, Busi Hadebe, Masheshi Cibane, Dirk Combrink, Dietmar Joosten, Detlef Stegen, Michael Ngubane, Dorothy Newlands and her brother Jabulani Dube go around like an ecclesiastical hit squad. They frighten, intimidate and pressure people to admit to siding with the “enemy”, i.e. LTDs detractors. Pressured by this hit squad over 30 people have left and in some cases fled the mission losing their homes in which they had lived for over 30 years. In one case a couple was told to chase away their parents which were 86 years old. The parents had no home to go to and sought refuge with a relative. The old man broke his hip because of the conditions he lived in, and the old lady declined rapidly into dementia and ill health
There is an abnormal amount of people who live at the mission who are being treated for depression, anxiety and other stress related conditions. For the sake of not disclosing personal medical history, and protecting their identities I cannot go into any detail.
The psychological pressure to worship at LTDs feet is relentless, and anyone who is seen as not towing the party line is marked as an enemy and subjected to the hit squad.
The mission’s director has now declined into a state of dementia that has made him incapable of directing the mission. LTD’s power is now absolute – nothing can be done without her approval, and her word is law.
(The name of the author is known to us, for security reasons we do not publish it.)