Psychologist testifies siblings murdered parents while under ‘coercive persuasion’

Religion News Blog — A brother and sister on trial for the murder of their parents claim the girl’s boyfriend, Matthew Naidoo, put the two under a powerful spell.

“He used witchcraft on us. How can two people believe that they are meant to kill their parents?” asked Nicolette Lotter, 29, in Durban, South Africa, High Court.

Last October Nicolette and Hardus Lotter told the court that the motive for the double murder was to get a share of the inheritance.

At the time a prosecutor said they also planned to kill the parents so the boyfriend, Mathew Naidoo, could stay on in the house.

Sapa reports

She, her brother Hardus Lotter, 23, and Naidoo, 25, stand accused of murdering the siblings’ parents Maria Magdalena “Rickie” Lotter, 52, and Johannes Petrus “Johnny” Lotter, 53, in July 2008.

Naidoo initially pleaded not guilty, but later changed his plea to guilty. He said he did not murder the couple, but helped cover up the crimes.

Nicolette told the court that when she met Naidoo she was depressed and questioning God as she was going through torment and hurt.

“I wondered if God was putting me through a test or if he was punishing me,” she said.

Nicolette said she believed that Naidoo was the son of God because God spoke to people in different ways.

“I thought he was a blessing. I had prayed for someone to come into my life and help me.”

She told the court Naidoo had been supportive and had spiritually helped her.

“I felt indebted to him, because he’d help me sort out my life.”

Under cross examination, State advocate Rea Mina asked Nicolette why she had not told anyone that Naidoo was the son of God.

“I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that he was the son of God. He told me if I told anyone a demon would be released and cause mass destruction on earth,” she said.

Mina asked Nicolette how she could believe Naidoo was the son of God when he was physically abusive, dyslexic and used bad language when speaking to her.

“I saw myself deserving of punishment because I didn’t listen to him when he gave me instructions,” she said.

Nicolette told the court that Naidoo explained to her that he went through tribulations just like Jesus.

She testified that she did not think they would go to jail because it was all God’s will.

“I believed God would take care of everything.” [...]

She told the court that Naidoo had programmed her psychologically so that he could manipulate her into doing what he wanted.

South Africa’s Daily News writes

“At tertiary level you are taught to question everything. How could you accept that (Naidoo) was the son of God?” Durban High Court Judge Shyam Gyanda asked her during the State’s cross-examination on Wednesday.

State advocate Rea Mina also questioned how easily Lotter accepted what her co-accused and boyfriend at the time, Naidoo, said about being a higher power through which God, and sometimes Satan, spoke.

Lotter argued that in hindsight she could see everything clearly, but at that time she “doesn’t know what spell or powers or muti he had used”. [...]

Lotter became flustered when speaking about her blind acceptance of Naidoo’s spirits and demons.

She said her concept of God before meeting Naidoo was that she could not understand why God was punishing her with all her suffering, referring to being possessed by a tokoloshe, and how hurt she felt. [...]

Asked about her punishment if she disobeyed God, Lotter replied that God threatened to bring back the tokoloshe if she did.

Sapa says

Hardus Lotter knew killing his parents was wrong, the Durban High Court heard on Thursday.

“He knew what he was doing was wrong, but he couldn’t resist carrying out the murder. He thought he was doing God’s work,” clinical psychologist Laurens Schlebusch said.

Schlebusch said Hardus believed he had to be a participant in his parents’ murders to save the world. [...]

He called the type of influence Naidoo and Nicolette had on Hardus “coercive persuasion”.

“This is done by reprogramming someone’s thinking, by breaking down their beliefs and introducing a new belief system.”

Schlebusch said this was done by rituals performed by Naidoo, who claimed to be the third son of God.

“At the time, he (Hardus) was trapped in an abnormal religious belief system. He believed he was doing the right thing.”

Hardus broke all mental connections with his past to commit the murder. Schlebusch said there had been other cases around the world where someone was influenced to kill. This was often done by an intelligent and charismatic individual.

Hardus had a normal upbringing and no history of violence. He expressed severe remorse for his involvement in the murder when he broke down in tears during a consultation.

“This was extremely painful for him,” Schlebusch said.

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