On the evening of July 28, 2008, Westville police were called to the plush Thames Drive home of Riekie and Johan Lotter where they discovered a gruesome crime scene.
ON THE EVENING of July 28, 2008, Westville police were called to the plush Thames Drive home of Riekie and Johan Lotter where they discovered a gruesome crime scene.
Johan Lotter, a German businessman, was found naked in the passage of the home while his wife Riekie, a teacher, was found in a pool of blood in the kitchen.
Detectives pieced together that Johan was lying in bed when he was assaulted and strangled with an electrical cord before being dragged to the passage.
Riekie was stabbed repeatedly in the neck and body and was shocked by a stun gun before a cellphone charger was wrapped around her arm.
It was the couple’s children, Hardus and Nicolette Lotter, along with Nicolette’s then-boyfriend, 22-year-old Mathew Naidoo, who called the police.
Hardus, who was 20 years old at the time, told the police that two men wearing balaclavas arrived at their home in a blue VW Golf car.
They assaulted him and locked him in his bedroom while they killed his parents.
Nicolette, then 26 years old, told police that she came home from the Pavilion shopping centre to find her parents dead and her brother locked in his room.
She then called Naidoo to contact the police.
However, in the hours to come the trio’s story would unravel and lay bare a tale of demons, tokoloshes, Satan worship and a belief that Naidoo was the “third son of God” and that Johan and Riekie’s death was the “will of God”.
The culmination of the 2008 murders that rocked the Durban community and the subsequent trial three years later which gripped South Africa all began in 2006 when Nicolette, who believed she was being bewitched by the family’s domestic worker went to Shastri Park in Phoenix, desperately seeking deliverance from demons from an exorcist.
It was in Phoenix where she met Naidoo, who promised to help rid her of her demons.
During the 2011 trial, Nicolette – who spent much of the time reading her bible – testified that she believed the family’s domestic worker had been practising witchcraft against her and that her body had been invaded by “a tokoloshe”.
She claimed in court that after the first time she slept with Naidoo the evil spirit left her.
He told her that he was the third son of God.
Nicolette would then, in the coming months move Naidoo, who came from a poor background in Phoenix, into her home in Westville unbeknownst to her parents.
While dating Naidoo, Nicolette told the court that she had received instructions from God and different angels, through Naidoo.
At one point she was assaulted by Naidoo’s guardian angel “Balance”, who punched her twice while they were driving in his car.
When asked by Durban High Court Judge Shyam Gyanda whether she had reported the assault to the police, she replied: “You do not go to the authorities to lay charges against the Son of God.
“That would be a sin in itself.”
Naidoo, according to court transcripts would go on to ingratiate himself into the lives of the Lotter siblings and would “become like a brother” to Hardus after meeting their parents.
According to Hardus’ testimony in court, Naidoo also told him that he was the third son of God.
“And I believed he was who he said he was. He told me things no one could know about,” he said during the trial.
Hardus told the court that Initially Naidoo’s attitude towards his parents was okay, but then Naidoo had told them that his father – a conservative man who did not like the relationship between him and Nicolette – was worshipping Satan.
Two days before his parents were murdered, Hardus said that Naidoo had told them that it was the will of God that they be killed as “he said he got the revelation from God himself and it was a direct instruction”.
The final plan had been for them to shock their parents with a stun gun until they were unconscious, and then tie them up and inject air bubbles into their veins, causing heart attacks.
After the parents were murdered, Naidoo encouraged Hardus to commit suicide “to be with God”, the court heard.
Although Naidoo was not present when Johan and Riekie were murdered, the Lotter siblings put the blame squarely on his shoulders, telling the court they were under his spell.
The ultimate reason for the murders?
Naidoo, it was claimed, would have had access to the Lotters’ properties, cars, boat and their money.
Naidoo denied all the allegations against him during the trial and maintained his innocence.
After a gruelling trial, all three were convicted for the murders of the Lotters.
Hardus and Nicolette were sentenced to 10 and 12 years respectively while Naidoo, who the court found had manipulated the siblings into believing that he was the third son of God and told them that God wanted their parents dead, was handed two life sentences.
Naidoo has to serve 25 years before being eligible for parole.
In his judgment, Gyanda compared their case to the brainwashing of followers in the 1978 Jonestown cult massacre in which Californian preacher Jim Jones murdered 276 children and 638 adults with cyanide-laced fruit punch.
In 2018 Hardus was released from prison with his parole ending in 2019.
Nicolette, who broke up with Naidoo after the murders, married in prison in 2017 and has also been freed from jail.
Naidoo maintains that he was unfairly treated during the trial as he was given two life sentences despite not been physically at the crime scene, “yet those who killed their parents are serving much less sentences”, he told the Sunday Tribune in 2013.
The Lotter trial has many similarities to the 2015 Electus per Deus’s serial killings involving Cecilia Steyn, Zak Valentine, Marcel Steyn, Marinda Steyn and Le Roux Steyn that was recently turned into a hit true crime docu-series, Devilsdrop.
Like Cecilia, Naidoo used the dark side of religion to manipulate his followers and like Cecilia, Naidoo was not present at the murders, yet was convicted for them.