Kwasizabantu is a non-denominational church mission that originated in South Africa.
It was founded in 1970, by Erlo Stegen, who had been an evangelist among the Zulu population since the 1950s. The mission is situated on a 550-hectare farm bordering Zululand, and is one of the largest mission stations in Africa.
The mission has a primary and secondary private school, and a teacher-training college. It also runs several non-profit initiatives like Radio Khwezi, a community radio station. On the commercial side, the mission owns South Africa’s largest bottled water plant, hydroponic greenhouses for sweet peppers, and an extensive avocado farming enterprise (with around 57,000 avocado trees). Kwasizabantu also has its own coffee shop and supermarket.
The profits from the mission’s various operations go towards helping people in need.
In September 2020, South Africa’s largest mainstream media outlet, News24, released an exposé alleging that Kwasizabantu is a cult, with former members accusing the mission of money laundering and abuse, including rape.
To be clear, News24 – especially its editor, Adriaan Basson – appears to have an agenda against KwaSizabantu, with around 150 articles published in total, including a peak of over 30 articles in a single week.
In her book, A Journey To The Truth: The case of KwaSizabantu Mission, Gerda Potgieter delves into the ethics of news headlines, examining their power to shape public opinion and impact reputations. She focuses on News24‘s untruthful coverage of KwaSizabantu. (An independent panel later cleared KwaSizabantu of all accusations.)
She scrutinises journalistic practices, highlighting ethical concerns and red flags in mainstream journalism, also incorporating findings from various investigations, affidavits and audits.