WATCH | Beatings galore in ‘cult hellhole’
E Cape churches in uproar as video of savage whipping goes viral
At least 15 former Endumisweni Faith Mission congregants in Mdantsane have described the church as a “hellhole” where leaders arrange marriages and assault those who “bring the church’s name into disrepute”.
The young women said church leaders isolate congregants from families who did not attend the church, by persuading them that their families are bewitching them.
Lifting the lid on the church’s dealings, the women also told of how congregants fight over the water one of the senior church leaders has bathed in, as “that is where blessings lie”.
This comes after two girls were savagely beaten – allegedly by gospel singer Tsidi Spampool, the founder and leader of Endumisweni Gospel Group– with a water pipe in a video clip that went viral.
The grainy cellphone recording has sparked a public outcry, with the SA Council of Churches in the Eastern Cape describing Endumisweni Faith Mission as a cult, while the EFF marched to the NU8 church on Sunday, demanding it be closed down.
In an exclusive interview with Akhanyile Mvunyiswa, 20, and Queenie Mondile, 19, the two women who were assaulted in the video said Spampool whipped them for posting a video on their WhatsApp statuses of themselves dancing at a shopping centre.
Spampool and another church leader, Asivo Nosenga, believed the Coca-Cola cups they were holding while dancing contained alcohol and punished them for their “sin”.
Spampool allegedly shaved their heads to “cleanse” them, Mlondile said.
Mvunyiswa has since left the church that she said had been her spiritual home all her life, and has even left Mdantsane in fear of the church leaders.
“We went to the mall to watch a movie with our cousin and after that we made some videos. When we went back to church, Tsidi called us and said she knows what we had been up to,” she recalled.
The third year NMU student said: “She is called the visionary of the church and says she can see everything that we are up to in our lives and she wanted to teach us a lesson.”
Mlondile, a second-year Rhodes University student, left the church after she refused to accept a man Spampool had allegedly picked for her as potential future husband.
“When I told her that I do not want the man she was hooking me up with, she said I was being rebellious. She smacked me on the face and the other church elders cheered her on.
“She said I must then take off my shoes and lie on the bed and she started to beat me.
“They say they are preparing us for a bright future but deep down inside all those people know that what is happening there is wrong.
“They don’t value education. They told my parents that if I do not go to church they must not pay for my studies,” she said.
Inathi Mfazwe, 18, a Buffalo City College student, left the church in December 2017 after being accused of breaking up an arranged couple.
“Our parents know about this but are scared to stop that practice,” Mfazwe said.
She said no case had been opened with the police.
“Our parents believe in that church too much, that is why it has been impossible to report this. I know God lives, and He is now revealing the truth about that place,” Mfazwe said.
Andiswa Ralase, 29, left the church nine years ago. “I failed matric because they took me to Joburg to record an album with her [Spampool].
“We stayed there for four months and she did not even give us any money.
“When I saw the video, I realised they are still beating children and forcing them to sleep with men,” Ralase said.
Another former member, Phindile Ndungane, 41, echoed the same sentiments.
“I was taken there when I was six years old but I could see way back that a lot was wrong. I was brainwashed into living there for more than 20 years and not allowed to go home.”
SACC provincial leader, Reverend Lulama Ntshingwa said: “This is a cult. Once church leaders beat people we ask those victims to report this at the police station. We will engage with our local office in Mdantsane and if it means we have to close that place then it will happen.”
A “church leader” who did not identify himself on Sunday declined to comment and asked the reporter to leave his contact details, saying “we will contact you when we are ready”.
After meeting with church leaders on Sunday, EFF branch commander Xolile Sitsili, who said they had been commissioned by the national office to “close this place”, said they would lay criminal charges on behalf of the women within seven days...