Parent-killer now free and going to church
Pastor has taken Hardus Lotter under his wing, hopes to help him reintegrate back into society
When a group of Durban churchgoers welcomed a new member into their fold, they were blissfully unaware that their latest congregant had held his mother down while his sister repeatedly stabbed her before he strangled his father almost 10 years ago.
The newcomer was convicted murderer Hardus Lotter, who is out on parole and living under house arrest.
He is now going to church, starting his own computer repairs business and connecting with the outside world through a newly created Facebook account.
The 29-year-old was released from Sevontein Prison outside Pietermaritzburg on Human Rights day after serving six years of his 10-year sentence for the brutal murder of his parents, Johan and Riekie Lotter, at their Westville home in 2008.
The unique trial gripped the country as the then-baby-faced Lotter and his devout sister, Nicolette, gave bone-chilling details about the double murder, which they claimed was on the instruction of the “Third Son Of God” – Nicolette's boyfriend at the time, Mathew Naidoo.
The pair told the court that Naidoo had told them God wanted their parents dead.
But the state said the motive was to gain a share of their inheritance.In the riveting five-month trial, the court heard bizarre testimony about a rape by a tolokshe, witchcraft and Naidoo's prophecies.
Nicolette was sentenced to 12 years in prison while Naidoo was given an effective 25-year jail term.
Pastor Danny Israel, who had counselled Lotter in prison since his arrest in 2008, has taken him in.“He attended his first church service last week. He was excited and loved it. No one knew about his past because I told him not to share it. It’s normal for people to be judgmental. He needs to move forward without judgment,” Israel said.
He said Lotter was an introvert who preferred not to speak to the media.
“He is adapting but with some apprehension, which is understandable, but with time I'm sure it will all be well. My aim is to change his entire demeanour and values from introvert to extrovert and self-confidence,” Israel explained.However, Lotter wants to visit Nicolette in prison.
“She has contacted him and he wants to see her. I hope to get permission for him to visit her,” Israel said.
Lotter has not been in contact with his sister Christelle, who was estranged from her siblings at the time of the murder and wished to remain that way following their conviction.
She had become the sole beneficiary of her parents’ more than R2-million estate upon her siblings’ conviction because the law does not allow “bloody hands” to inherit.
“Hardus is looking for work but because people are judgmental I am encouraging him to start his own computer repair business. He has to work for himself.
“I believe there will come a time when he will be able to go out on his own and he will even be able to live on his own. For now his house-arrest conditions state that he has to live with someone, but one day he will be self-sufficient,” Israel said.