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How did Nicolette Lotter go from doting daughter to cold-blooded killer of both her parents?
When she arrived in Shastri Park, Phoenix, desperately seeking deliverance from demons, she had already been primed for many years for the bloody night when she and her brother Hardus would murder their parents.
Her grandmother, Marie “Bokkie” van der Merwe, had from a little girl told her tales of tokoloshes and evil spirits that would molest promiscuous women and steal children who dared to misbehave. And Nicolette did misbehave.
Nicolette’s turbulent teenage years were filled with drugs, sex and her passion for bass guitar in the band Caffeine Substitute. She had been troubled by the revelation that her beloved dad Johan Lotter had been unfaithful to her mother Riekie.
This is how Nicolette is portrayed in the controversial book Innocent Acts of Evil published this week and announced outside the Durban High Court as providing “the truth behind the truth” just minutes after the siblings and Nicolette’s former boyfriend Mathew Naidoo were handed their sentences for murdering Johan and Riekie Lotter in their Westville home in 2008.
And at the age of 15 she had been misled by a friend to attend a fashion modelling shoot that ended up being a front for a child pornography ring. The pair were driven by two men to a Durban warehouse where they were told to strip and perform indecent acts with men in front of the cameras.
After a string of boyfriends and sessions of smoking marijuana and drunken parties, at the age of 19 Nicolette became a born-again Christian. She jumped from church to church looking for deliverance from the demons that she saw and the spells she believed her domestic worker Clementia Ntomi was casting on her and her family.
And then she met Mathew Naidoo, who brought her “healing” and took over her life, her finances, ruined the future of her successful and promising jazz band Khula and plotted the murder of her parents. For a whole year, Naidoo lived in her bedroom, undetected, yet right under the nose of her parents, physically beating her and sexually assaulting her, even if she was a willing victim believing he was the third Son of God whose every wish was her command.
Judge Shyam Gyanda sentenced Hardus, 24, to 10 years for each of the murders. Nicolette, who will be 30 next month, received 12 years on each count to run concurrently.
Naidoo, 25, received two life sentences running concurrently and will become eligible for parole after serving 25 years.
Nicolette’s attorney Theuns Botha said on Friday night that neither of them had seen the book and was “very concerned” about how she may have been portrayed.
The book explains how Nicolette, in search of healing from the demons and tokoloshes that had plagued her mind her for several years, had sought help from self-proclaimed medium and exorcist Claudette Pillay in Phoenix. The troubled young woman had been fasting feverishly to cleanse herself and the family home of evil spirits.
In Phoenix, Mathew Naidoo had been waiting patiently for the “crazy blonde chick” from Westville who he had heard was seeking spiritual help. He threw himself at her with a marriage proposal at their first meeting and proclaimed God had brought them together for a purpose.
Within weeks she believed angels spoke through him and was further deceived into believing he was the son of God and that God spoke through him. Naidoo had aspirations to be a messianic prophet and healer and he had found his first follower. 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.
According to the book Naidoo had decided to kill their parents when he realised they had hired private investigator Brad Nathanson because he feared he would be caught for using the siblings to steal R6 000 on separate occasions from Johan’s bank account.
The book portrays Naidoo as an abusive, demon-possessed man who is a manipulative glutton with a penchant for deep-fried calamari from Ocean Basket, KFC and his own home-made crab curry and the siblings his victims.
“You are beautiful! I love you! Will you marry me?”
These were the charming first words of Mathew Naidoo, on his knees holding out a bunch of plastic flowers to Nicolette Lotter, who was later to become his battered common-law wife living secretly in her parents’ house.
He had grabbed the flowers from his Phoenix house before rushing next door when he heard that the crazy white blonde had arrived from Westville for another exorcism with Claudette Pillay.
She called him crazy for proposing marriage to a complete stranger. But a few months later after he lost his virginity to her, it was her urging him to go with her to the civil court to get married.
Naidoo’s friend Reverend Raj Pillay, who is married to Claudette, had coached Mathew to become “a man of God” and he encouraged Naidoo to pursue Nicolette, instead of spending the rest of his life watching pornography on his cellphone.
This is how Danie Grundlingh’s book, Innocent Acts of Evil, introduces the start of what was to become a toxic and deadly relationship that left her parents dead and all their lives in ruins.
Mathew is described in the book as “highly intelligent” and although teachers said he was dyslexic there were suspicions that this could have been due to laziness. He was a “spoilt only child” brought up by a single mother, Rita Naidoo, with the help of his extended family who apparently encouraged him to get whatever he wanted.
Naidoo apparently loved to spend weekends with Pillay visiting local church groups. He loved to manipulate people.
At the tender age of two Naidoo was diagnosed with a multiple personality disorder.
When Naidoo introduced himself Hardus was only too happy to become friends, after all, they both loved Wrestlemania and he was always friendly to Nicolette’s boyfriends.
But their parent’s disagreed. Behind closed doors Naidoo was spoken of as a “coolie” and the silent feud between Naidoo and Johan Lotter ensued. His wife Riekie was polite to Naidoo.
However, when the Lotters started receiving ominous, anonymous letters – from Naidoo, Hardus and Nicolette – and R6 000 had gone missing from their bank account, Riekie became suspicious of Naidoo.
What she did not know was that Naidoo had been living in the house for the past year in her daughter’s bedroom, which had an en-suite shower and that he had been religiously conditioning Nicolette and later Hardus, to believe that their parents were evil Satanists.
According to the book there were many demons that spoke through Naidoo in the privacy of Nicolette’s bedroom
Nicolette believed with all her heart that he was the third son of God.
She had found her spiritual experience.
But it was one that left both her and Hardus’s hands stained with the blood of their parents, a crime that they will have to fight the guilt of for the rest of their lives. - Saturday Star