Erika Bornman tells of fierce determination to expose 'Mission of Malice'
She is given a savage beating, the adults impervious to her screams. I have to look at her. I am not allowed to look away and I am not allowed to cry. I am not allowed to show any emotion at all. Because if I do, I will be next.’
In the 1980s, Erika Bornman’s family join, and ultimately move, to KwaSizabantu, a Christian mission based in KwaZulu-Natal, which is touted as a nirvana, founded on egalitarian values.
But something sinister lurks beneath “the place where people are helped”.
Life at KwaSizabantu is hard. Christianity is used to justify harsh punishments and congregants are forced to repent for their sins. Threats of physical violence ensure adherence to stringent rules. Parents are pitted against children. Friendships are discouraged. Isolated and alone, Bornman lives in constant fear of eternal damnation.
At 16, Bornman says, her grooming at the hands of a senior mission councillor begins. For the next five years, KwaSizabantu wages emotional, psychological and sexual warfare on her, until, finally, she manages to break free and escape at the age of 21.
Escaping is difficult, but rehabilitation into “normal” life after a decade of alleged ritual humiliation, brainwashing and abuse is much more painful, as Bornman soon discovers. She cannot ignore her knowledge of the grievous human-rights abuses being committed at KwaSizabantu, and so embarks on a quest to expose the atrocities.
Mission of Malice: My exodus from KwaSizabantu chronicles Bornman’s journey from a fearful young girl to a fierce activist determined to do whatever it takes to save future generations and find personal redemption and self-acceptance.
- Article provided by Penguin Random House