‘Learner blames Satan for murderous rampage’
Satanism and drugs may have led to the wanton murder of a Johannesburg schoolboy early this morning. An 18-year-old sword-wielding Krugersdorp pupil went on the rampage early this morning.
He allegedly killed a fellow pupil, and injured three others. Wearing a balaclava, with his face painted black, the boy later said Satan had told him to do it.
Before morning assembly, the school ground became a field of violence. A grade 12 learner, armed with a sword, slashed a grade nine pupil across the throat and in a blind rage of fury went on the warpath.
Pupils say the boy painted his face black, in imitation of musicians from American heavy metal band, Slipknot. The teenager reportedly told school staff that Satan had implored him to kill.
‘I killed three didn’t I?’
Harmse apparently tested negative for drugs, but pupils who saw him just before the attack believe he was definitely in an altered state.
“His eyes were not the same eyes, they were big and you just saw the whites. His voice was different,” the friend said.
He described Harmse as shy, well-mannered and playful. “He never looked for trouble.”
“He never had a bad thing to say about anybody,” added the friend’s sister.
Harmse had told people he was not a Christian, because God was not apparent in his life. Instead, he spoke about demonology.
But the friend was often in Harmse’s room, and never saw any signs of Satanism.
“All that was in his room were his swords, neatly (placed) on the walls,” he said.
According to the friend, Harmse bought one set of swords himself, his parents bought him another, and he made or repaired others.
After hearing that police yesterday found spell books, ouija boards and “lots of pentagrams” in Harmse’s room – described by officers as “disturbing elements of Satanism” – he said he realised his friend had been involved in something far more sinister than he’d ever suspected.
In the last few weeks, the boys had become interested in the band Slipknot, and Harmse started making masks resembling those worn by the band members.
The friend said each mask had a personality. Some embodied “rape, murder or child abuse”.
On Monday morning, Harmse packed three masks into his schoolbag, and took three swords.
“He was speaking about how he was going to kill people when the bell rang. We tried to talk him out of it, but he didn’t want to listen,” said the friend.
“I realised he was holding a bomb. One of the threads of the bomb came loose. He said: ‘It’s going to go off.’ I took it out of his hands and threw it away.
“Do you want to see something cool?” Harmse asked his friend.
The friend jerked away and the sword swung. After the blade had completed its arc, Pretorius lay in a pool of blood.
The friend ran to the school office to get help. He didn’t see Harmse continue his rampage, which left another pupil and two groundsmen injured. All three have been discharged from hospital.
Eventually, Harmse sat down on a brick wall and stuck his sword into the ground.
His friend said Harmse was laughing. “I killed three people, didn’t I?” he asked him.
“No, you struck four,” said someone else.
“Even then he laughed,” remembered the friend.
Harmse had been known to do a lot of drugs said the friend, but had been clean the whole weekend.
Alleged boy killer dabbled with Satanism: parents
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — The parents of a South African schoolboy accused of killing a fellow student with a sword said Thursday that he had experimented with Satanism and was bullied.
“We regret to say that it appears that Morne experimented with Satanism and that it gave him a kind of protection for his psyche,” Machiel and Liza Harmse said in a statement in the Afrikaans daily newspaper Die Beeld.
Wearing a ninja-like outfit and home-made mask, the suspect Morne allegedly went on a violent spree Monday and stabbed to death a 16-year-old boy, injured another pupil and two school gardeners.
“His words to us were ‘When I put on the mask, everything went dead quiet and my body started moving. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t,'” the translated statement said.
The Harmses said they had not realised the impact of physical and emotional abuse inflicted on Morne, who was small and skinny for his age and apparently had been regularly bullied.
Harmse parents’ letter to the public
Firstly, we want to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Pretorius family. We realise your precious possession has been taken away by our child’s deed.
We are terribly sorry and wish that the circumstances weren’t so, and that we could change them.
Morne is very small and scrawny for his age. Until Monday morning we never thought he was capable of such a thing. We are a very solid family and our children are raised strictly, but with a lot of love.
Because of Morne’s physical build, he was often belittled during his formative years. Where we could, we stood up for him and spoke to the bullies involved, but also accepted it as part of life.
During a visit with Morne on Tuesday, we saw that we never realised the true impact that the physical and emotional abuse had on him.
He explained to us that he felt so powerless and worthless that he wanted to make a stand.
He went to school intending to give “them” – which was never directed at a specific person – a fright and to hurt them, but he never intended to kill anyone. He wanted to release built-up frustration and his feeling of powerlessness. He wanted to be someone.
Morne was a very small baby at birth, and through life we knew him as someone quiet who knew his place.
To our regret, it looks as though Morne experimented with Satanism and that, in his psyche, it offered him a measure of protection. It was as though he could escape into this idea – that he would experience certain powers which would then offer him a protection mechanism.
His words to us were: “When I put on the mask, everything became dead quiet and my body moved. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t.”
He also mentioned that the matric final exams had put a lot of pressure on him. Although he never failed a grade, he was terribly afraid he would.
We suspect a combination of stress, bad self-esteem, wrong influences and an absolute feeling of powerlessness led our child to this terrible deed.
During our visit (in the cells), Morne was terribly confused and only realised on Tuesday that someone had died. He remembered basically nothing about the incident.
Two lives have been destroyed by this unfathomable incident.
We appeal to all parents to have deep conversations with their children to make sure everything is alright. One is inclined to attribute certain personalities to physical development, but that isn’t always the case.
We ask that you please pray for us, the Pretorius family, and everyone who has been affected. We also want to use this opportunity to thank everyone for their support.
We appeal to people not to judge us. Please grant us the time to pick up the pieces of our lives.
Machiel and Liza Harmse
Aug. 26, 2008 News Summary