The house where an alleged pastor lured youth. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA).
A number of young men and women who had dedicated their lives to a Durban pastor and had found a permanent home at a residence in Durban North leased by his church have returned to their families.

Last week, the Sunday Tribune reported that concerned parents of the youngsters who left their families to join the House of Grace International church led by “rabbi” Siza Madlala were accompanied by police to look for their children at the home. Most refused to leave, saying they had chosen to isolate themselves and were dedicated to building a kingdom for the “rabbi”.

Thembi Miya, whose daughter Nkanyezi was among the group, said her daughter had suddenly returned home on Wednesday.

“I found my daughter at home but I am not sure how she got there. She told me that they had been asked to leave and to only return once their families had released them,” she said.

Miya said her daughter had asked her for permission to return to the church, which also functions as the headquarters of a forex trading company, Mishkan Capital, where Nkayezi had been working.

“She asked that I let her go because she was making money as a forex trader. She told me she had made R100 000, but when I asked where the money was, she told me that she had given it back to the company owner.

“I will not let her go back there to be used,” she said.

A private security guard at a home near the church confirmed that some of the followers of the “rabbi” had left on Wednesday. The guard said he saw two vans with what seemed to be luggage leaving the premises with some of the women who used to live in the house.

Simphiwe Mfene, founder of Shalom Holdings, a security and construction company, and a member of the church, confirmed that all those who had not received permission from their parents had been sent home. He said the residence was used for business purposes and the young followers were there to work.

When asked about the whereabouts of “rabbi” Siza, he said, “What do you want with the rabbi? We have not had a church service in a year.’

The Commission on Religion and Languages (CRL) said it will look into the matter of Madlala.

Mike Webb, the owner of the house leased to the church, said he was not interested in the matter concerning the “rabbi” and that he knew nothing about the church.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) took issue with last week’s story on Madlala being referred to as a rabbi, which refers to a Jewish spiritual leader who teaches Judaism. 

Sunday Tribune