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Durban - This week marks a year since the Lotter siblings Nicolette and Hardus, along with co-accused Mathew Naidoo, started serving their prison sentences for the murder of their parents.
Nicolette and Hardus have accepted their sentences and are adapting to prison life, but Naidoo maintains his innocence and is in the process of appealing both his conviction and sentence.
Hardus and Nicolette were sentenced to 10 and 12 years respectively while Naidoo, who 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. He has to serve 25 years before being eligible for parole.
Nicolette stabbed her mother repeatedly in the kitchen while Hardus strangled his father in the passage as part of the plan hatched by Naidoo in 2008.
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune from a callbox at Westville Prison yesterday, Naidoo said life behind bars had changed him.
“I am 26 years old and have been in prison for over a year; I am much more mature now,” he said. “But I am appealing both my conviction and sentence because I believe I was not given a fair trial. I am serving two life sentences when I didn’t physically commit the crime, yet those who killed their parents are serving much less sentences… I will fight for my innocence until the day I die.”
He believes he has a strong case and says he has total confidence in his lawyer, who has stood by him.
“Never before has such a harsh sentence been handed down for mental manipulation. I was watching TV on Friday and saw Jacob Humphreys’s case, which I think is similar to mine. His case gives me some hope.”
Humphreys, a Cape Town taxi driver, was sentenced to 20 years after being found guilty of 10 counts of murder and four of attempted murder. He overtook a queue of cars waiting to cross a railway line and crashed into a train in 2010.
Last week the Supreme Court of Appeal replaced his murder convictions with culpable homicide and reduced his sentence to just eight years.
Naidoo said ironically the same officers from the Cato Manor squad who described him as arrogant and an inconsistent witness “are in court for crimes committed far worse than mine”.
Although he’s written to the Lotter siblings, expressing his forgiveness, he wants no further contact with them.
Naidoo said he was making use of the programmes offered to him in jail.
“I have enrolled for a Heartlines course which teaches about forgiveness and hardships, and attend church two or three times a week.”
He still dreams of becoming a pastor and having a wife and has the names of his three children picked out.
“I love the Lord with all my life, and will continue to serve Him. I am someone who respects and cares about the welfare of others. I don’t regret meeting Nicolette because she has prepared me how to properly treat the next young lady in my life.”
Naidoo also said he suffered from dyslexia.
“Psychologists in prison have explained to me that apart from my reading and writing, my speech and the way I carry myself is also affected. I am viewed as a monster but I am anything but. People definitely had more sympathy for Nicolette and Hardus. Even now churches come to visit them and bring them things.
“But it is okay, I have my mother’s support.
“She has stood by me.”