‘Third Son of God,’ Lotter siblings convicted of murder

Religion News Blog — A judge in South Africa has found siblings Nicolette and Hardus Lotter, along with Nicolette’s boyfriend Mathew Naidoo, guilty of the brutal murder of the Lotter parents.

The brother and sister, 23 and 29 respectively, murdered their parents, Magdalena (Riekie) and Johannes Lotter, in their home on July 19, 2008.

Hardus told the court her had attacked his mother with a stun gun, hit her with his fists and then sat on her for about 15 minutes before Nicolette stabbed her repeatedly.

He then strangled his father with an electric cord which he pulled around his neck for at least 20 minutes.

During the trial the two told the court that Matthew Naidoo put them up to the murders.

Last October they stated 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 could stay on in the house.

Nicolette said Naidoo had told them he was the “third son of God… that he had an angel and demon in him and that he was a vessel of God through which angel and demons could speak. “We believed Naidoo hook, line and sinker,” Nicolette said.

Clinical psychologist Laurens Schlebusch testified that the Lotters had been under Naidoo’s “powerful spell.”

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.”

Hired as an expert by the defense, Schlebus said he believed the Lotters were victims of religious “programming” and “coercive persuasion”, which reached “cult-like dimensions” at times.

According to him the siblings truly believed they were on a religious mission to save the world and had killed their parents because they believed it to be God’s will.

In October Naidoo, 25, confessed that he was behind the planning of the double murder.

Later he denied the Lotters’ claims.

But according to The Citizen, Judge Shyam Gyanda said it was abundantly clear from  letters authored by Naidoo that he had portrayed himself as the third son of God:

The judge said the question had been asked many times in the trial about how it was possible for educated, sophisticated people in a middle-class, church-going family to allow themselves to be influenced.

He recalled that expert witness, clinical psychologist professor Lourens Schlebusch, had told the court this sort of brainwashing had been used to “remould” and “realign” religious people — doctors, lawyers, businessmen — to get them to do things considered stupid.

The judge said the Lotters’ belief in Naidoo’s powers was a mitigating circumstance, and may or may not have resulted in them having diminished criminal capacity.

“But certainly not exclude them from criminal liability,” he said.

He believed the killings began when Johannes Lotter refused to accept Naidoo as a consort for his daughter. The judge said  another turning point was when the parents had money stolen, and the police were called in. A quarrel between Maria Lotter and Naidoo had followed. The court had heard she called him a “dark horse”.

The judge said Naidoo was trying to fleece the Lotters and access Nicolette’s inheritance.

Hardus, who had been instructed by Naidoo to commit suicide after the murder, was the fall guy, the judge said.

Nicolette was fertile ground for Naidoo’s thought processes. She believed her domestic worker was practising witchcraft on her and that she was being “spiritually raped” by a tokoloshe.

Her  parents did not believe she was being affected by black magic.

They warned her pastor, whom she had wanted to turn to for help that she was seeking attention.

She eventually met Naidoo and the spirit left her when they had sex.

The judge said Naidoo clearly saw her vulnerability and the opportunity to take advantage of her.

Her brother was initially wary of Naidoo but “eventually Hardus regarded Naidoo as the brother that he did not have.

He was fertile ground in which to plant ideas”, the judge said. 

Times Live writes

Judge Gyanda said Hardus’ reluctance to commit the murder and Nicolette’s deviation from the original plan when “things went haywire” showed that they were not “so controlled and possessed by Naidoo” and therefore they are criminally liable for their parents’ murder.

News 24 says that Naidoo still denies planning or taking part in the murders of his former girlfriend’s parents.

Speaking to reporters from the dock during a break in proceedings, he said: “I just got found guilty today for murder. I have been found guilty. I accepted that, but I have not committed this crime.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday March 14, 2012.
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