Brainwashed: parents tell of 18-year-old's refusal to leave cult and return to South Africa

'My daughter's mind has been poisoned'

Saturday Argus, South Africa/April 2, 2005
By Kashiefa Ajam

[D. M.] was a top learner at Northcliff High School in Johannesburg. She taught courses at her church and gave her parents, Ian and Karene , few problems.

Today she is married to a self-styled cult leader in the United States who is 40 years her senior - even older than her father - and she will not matriculate.

[The Ms] family went through what dad Ian describes as "a rough patch" three years ago when his wife Karene agreed to be a surrogate mother for her childless sister.

After she gave birth to twins, Karene  became gravely ill and spent weeks in intensive care. More tragedies followed, and it was around this difficult time that [D. M.], then 15, "met" a man called Amadon on the internet.

"[D. M.] was a devout Christian," explained her father. "But a week before her confirmation, she told us that she did not want to be confirmed anymore," said [the Ms.]

"She had changed almost immediately. She became a liar and a thief. But still we knew nothing of what she was up to. We thought she was on drugs and had her tested - but it showed nothing."

The family only learned of [D. M.] communication with Amadon in May last year when she announced that Amadon had proposed - and that she had accepted.

Said Ian: "We were furious and ordered that she not make contact with this man again. But it did not stop. Funny thing is, her intentions and actions did not seem strange to her. She genuinely could not understand why we were reacting the way we did.

"It was only after we did forensic tests on her computer that we discovered how far Amadon and the others had gone to brainwashing her. One evening she asked me for her passport. I refused. She hissed at me with malice and hatred, demanding it from me. The phrase, 'give control of my body to me' was repeated over and over like a mantra. She said she wanted her passport and was going to take legal action against me.

"I locked myself in a room and put a pillow over my head. I realised my child's mind had been poisoned. There was no peace for this family. [D. M.] remained defiant, and secretive. She avoided contact with everybody who loved and knew her."

Then, on March 18 - the day the Gauteng government schools closed doors for the Easter holidays - [D. M.] told her family she would spending the night with a friend. The next day, [the Ms] received a phone call from Amadon saying their daughter was in Canada and would be in the US by the Sunday. She and Amadon were to be married.

"When she told us about sleeping over at a friend's house, we thought it a bit strange because she had never asked to do that before. On Sunday, [D. M.] called us to say that she and Amadon had been married and that she was not ever coming home. We were stunned."

[The Ms] were a "very close and together" family and this turn of events is tearing them apart.

"I wonder if the situation was reversed and I, a 46-year-old man, had internet-coerced a young American girl to SA, married her in 24 hours and shown no regard for her situation at school or her parents, would I be allowed to get away with it?" asked [the Ms].

"No, I think all hell would break loose.

"My family is mortified and in great sadness and shock. We have never mistreated [D. M.] in any way. I am deeply frustrated and can't get the attention of anybody in authority.

"I am not sure that anything can be done now, but it appears that nobody has cared enough to try. Consider how you would feel if this had happened to your well-brought up child."

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