Documents @EN

Kwasizabantu – a festering wound

The CRL Commission received numerous letters from victims of Mission KwaSizabantu with detailed accounts. This is a letter from Monika de Jager. It, too, failed to impress the Commission.

From: Monika de Jager 
Sent: Friday, October 2, 2020 11:35 AM
To: '' <>
Subject: Kwasizabantu
To whom it may concern.
My name is Monika de Jager, maiden name Greeff. I am 41 years old. I was born at Kwasizabantu in 1979 and left with my parents in 1994. My mother is Erlo Stegen’s niece.
For the past 25 years I have managed to get peace and freedom from the life of fear and abuse that I was born into. I am happily married and have 3 children. I have a good life, and have nothing to loose or gain from getting involved in Kwasizabantu again. I have a handful of friends from KSB with whom I have kept contact over the years. And I am friends on Facebook with many of the past pupils from KSB. But we have not spoken in any depth about that place, as we have all worked very hard at moving on.
Their constant lies and denials need to be confronted. Since News24 broke the story some of the people who lived there have bravely spoken about their experiences – about all of our experiences really. What really upset me is the depth of the fear and terror that surrounded our childhood. Even people who are a lot younger than me and have different stories of abuse have this over arching feeling of fear. I am praying that more people will contact you as this place has got away with their abuse and control for too long.
A few memories:
Michael Ngubane, who denied the claims of abuse and spoke to the media as spokesperson was the main Abuser of children at Domino Servite School while I was there. He particularly was terrifying with an orange or white plastic pipe, which he used to beat children. He liked to make the children lie flat on their stomachs on the stage at the front of the school hall and then he would beat them. This was not just a hiding, with 6 of the best. It would be a large strong grown man beating young boys and girls. We had to watch and if you showed any emotion or sympathy you would be in trouble too. He did this in front of the staff. Uncle Erlo’s wife Kay was the principle of the school at that stage. And the staff were all well aware and supportive of this abuse. The black children got it much worse than the white children. But he also beat up my brother badly so it was not only the black children.
There was a school play and the boy playing Jesus fell over on the stage with his cross. Some children laughed. The whole school were made to sit in the hall for hours while we were being screamed at. Children wet their pants as no one was allowed to leave the hall. Michael Ngubane started shouting that he would keep on punishing everyone until we told him who had laughed. Hulda Stegen – who was in the high school, stood up and accused my 6 year old sister of laughing. He pulled my sister out of her seat and took her to the stage and was shouting. I was not allowed to show any emotion. Eventually he let her go. I am convinced that if Hulda had accused a black child, then he would have beaten her. We could not trust each other. We were forced to tell on each other.
A classmate of mine Ronel van der Watt came to school regularly beaten up. Her mother was a teacher at the school. Her legs would have marks on from the beatings she got at home and none of the adults helped her or reported the abuse. That was Kwasizabantu’s way. The adults always stood together, so as a child reporting anything was futile. It would just make you get into trouble. I remember one day Ronel lifted her school dress and showed me her body in the toilets. Her mother and the sisi who looked after them had made her lie on a table and had taken turns to beat her. Her body was yellow and purple from the bruises from her neck to her ankles.
Confessing sins to a councillor was imperitive. If you died with unconfessed sin, you would go to hell. God was a God of vengeance. To strengthen this picture of God we were forced to watch films like The Burning Hell and The Footman. Pre school children had to watch these graphic depictions of hell and of what the “Communists” would do to us. There was another movie as well, The Rapture which I remember as being specifically horrid.
Black girls were beaten if their hair grew even as long as a centimetre or 2. We were not allowed makeup or jewelry. Our dresses had to be between the knee and the ankle. Too long or too short was from the devil. Denim was from the devil. Pants for girls was from the devil. Colouring or perming your hair if you are white is also from the devil.
In a maths class Mr Hlongwane asked us if we were at school out of own choice or because of our parents, as part of an example how to do statistics. No one wanted to answer him and we said we were going to get into trouble. He promised us that nothing would happen. He got an honest answer eventually and then this question was asked to all the high school classes. Again the school was made to sit in the hall while we were yelled at and I think uncle Erlo was personally involved in that episode.
You were not even allowed to chat to a boy. That was the biggest sin. We would sit in the hall and then it would just be announced that so-and-so had a relationship with so-and-so and they were expelled. Often this “relationship” was just talking to a boy. Or writing a letter. To most of these children it meant the end of an education as their parents would reject them as well. If you showed any empathy or sadness then you would be in trouble too. I remember so vividly in Std 8 I was sitting in the hall. My parents had left the mission but I wanted to complete my school year so I lived with my grandparents till the end of 1994. My brother had a very good friend, Bongani Mkhize who was in my class. Bongani had basically been part of my family for years. That morning they announced that Bongani was expelled. I started crying and a sympathetic teacher grabbed me by the arm and took me to the little kitchen outside the hall and told me to please just pull myself together.
I don’t know if I am articulating myself well. Everything about Kwasizabantu is such a festering sore. I just want to confirm that I believe all the victims. Even the one’s I don’t know. That place is a destroyer of people, especially children and in particular black children. Now that I am an adult and have an experience of God as a God of love and grace, I have to speak out against that place that denies everything and preaches the “Truth” when in reality they are destroyers.
Please believe us.
Please believe the victims.
Kind regards