Report on the kidnapping of Lydia Dube

Kranskop, South Africa. Erlo Stegen, the head of Kwasizabantu Mission, announced to co-workers of the KSB congregation that Lydia Dube, KSB leader and daughter of Erlo Stegen’s colleague and close confident, Hilda Dube, has confessed that she had “some knowledge” of the source of her kidnappers who allegedly held her in custody for one day back in September 1997. Erlo Stegen made this admission after many months of reports that Lydia Dube had paid for and arranged her own kidnapping for publicity reasons. It was announced that Lydia Dube has asked for forgiveness and has been granted it by the KSB leadership, though she is under discipline now.

There has been an outcry from various leaders and members of Kwasizabantu Mission South Africa who accuse the leader of Kwasizabantu, Erlo Stegen, and the other top leadership of mishandling Lydia’s kidnapping affair. One group believes that Erlo Stegen participated in deception and a covered up the incident this year when certain Kwasizabantu co-workers asked that the matter to be investigated. Some suspect that Erlo Stegen, under pressure, encouraged Lydia Dube to a strategic, superficial apology to evade criticism because the information of Lydia’s actions were coming out into the open.

So far, those who distrust Stegen feel that he has not adequately addressed the seriousness of the scandal but has even played down the fact that as a result of the kidnapping planned by Lydia Dube, Dube’s former bodyguard Thobekhile Mahlongo had been left for dead and suffered chronic, disabling head injuries for which she required significant treatment. Neither, they say, has Erlo explained why he had not disciplined Lydia before though he was aware of her alleged crimes, making accusation that Erlo Stegen falsely denied knowledge of and lied about the incident to his fellow leaders.

Disillusionment with Erlo Stegen’s actions regarding these matters seems to have been a major factor in the exodus of one prominent Zulu co-worker together with close to 350 other KSB members from Kwa Sizabantu in the Tugela Ferry area.

There are reports that Erlo Stegen is now trying to discredit the Tugela Ferry congregation leadership to draw attention away from the deception for which he is suspected. Some see Mr. Stegen’s move as an attempt to protect his name and pacify the other leaders of Kwa Sizabantu. Openness about the matter would most likely be extremely difficult for Erlo Stegen, because Lydia Dube, founder of the Kwasizabantu Choir, is the daughter of Hilda “Mama Dube” – Erlo’s right-hand lady and internationally revered co-worker of over 30 years.

In 1997, the organisation Christians For Truth (C.F.T.), founded and staffed by Kwa Sizabantu leadership, distributed news of the kidnapping. The report made its way to various Christian news services around the world. So far there has been no official comment or correction by Christians for Truth for the information they issued to the Christian media, even though there is now evidence that the kidnapping had been a publicity stunt by one of their fellow co-workers at Kwa Sizabantu. The news item is not featured together with other Christian News from C.F.T.’s 1997 internet archive located at www.cft.org.za but evidence for the press release is available on the Religion Today website.

The following news item, provided originally from C.F.T., was released by Religion Today :

Monday Sept 15, 1997 Religion Today www.religiontoday.com

“A missionary to South Africa was kidnapped and questioned for 24 hours before being released by her captors. Lydia Dube works with the Kwasizabantu Mission near Greytown, South Africa, which feeds 1,200 people a day, operates a school for children, and runs a training institute for adults. Early on the morning of Sept. 12, four men with guns kidnapped her from the hospital where she was recovering from an operation. The kidnappers also severely beat a colleague who tried to defend her, according to Christians for Truth, a news service in the country. Dube was blindfolded and held in a windowless room where the men interrogated her about activities at the mission and its leaders. Early on the morning of Sept. 14, the men released her in Durban. The Kwasizabantu mission is interdenominational and apolitical, but does take a strong stand on various Biblical issues, according to CFT.”

(Article 15.9.9)

For the record:

(Lydia was not a missionary to South Africa, but a missionary from South Africa working in South Africa at Kwasizabantu Mission. She was a KSB co-worker and a member of Christians for Truth. She was kidnapped at a seaside holiday flat and not the hospital).