The first policeman to arrive at the Westville home of murdered couple Magdalena and Johannes Lotter found their children, Nicolette and her brother, Hardus, seated at the dining room table with Nicolette’s former boyfriend, Mathew Naidoo.
The three are accused of killing Magdalena and Johannes by assaulting and strangling them on July 19, 2008, at their Westville home.
The trial started on Monday at the Durban High Court, with the State calling Detective Inspector Justice Jabulani Duma, the first of 22 witnesses expected to give evidence.
All three accused have pleaded not guilty to the double murder.
It is the State’s case that the premeditated murder was committed to gain an inheritance.
“When I arrived, the body of Johannes was covered in a white sheet in the passage. There was an electric cord around his neck and he was lying face-down.”
Duma said he noticed bloody handprints on the wall next to where the father lay, naked.
Next to the mother, Duma saw a black-handled knife. He said the mother had a stab wound to her throat and a cellphone charger cord wrapped around her shoulder. There was blood on the floor.
Duma said he photographed several cuts and bruises on Hardus’s hands.
Hardus told Duma that two men invaded their home, locked him in his room and then killed his parents. He said the cuts on his hands were as a result of the scuffle with the men.
However, in a confession submitted to the court, Nicolette said: “We spoke about what we had to do. I will admit that both my brother and I believed that Mathew is the third son of God.” Nicolette said the three had discussed and agreed to Naidoo’s plan to kill her parents using a Taser and syringe, to inject air into their veins to induce a heart attack.
Duma, who was the photographer at the scene of the crime, said he knew all three accused and the deceased before the murders took place.
He said in June, Johannes opened a case of intimidation at the Westville Police Station after Nicolette and Hardus were apparently robbed.
In May 2008, Duma said Nicolette opened a charge at the Durban North police station and reported that she was accosted by two men in a Volkswagen who threatened to kill her parents.
A month later, her brother reported that while riding his bike, two men in a Volkswagen broke his cellphone and made similar threats.
Duma said he interviewed the family and Naidoo because the father said he had received threatening smses.
Duma said he could not establish anything and Johannes engaged the services of a private investigator.
In her confession, Nicolette said syringes were bought from Clicks and three sets of gloves from McPharmacy at the Pine Crest Centre in Pinetown.
Vignesan Naicker, a qualified pharmacist, submitted to the court a receipt for a syringe sold to “M Naidoo” on July 19.
Naicker said it was a legal requirement to take details of anyone purchasing medication and no verification was required.
Under cross-examination by advocate Roland Parsotham, representing Hardus, Naicker said the profile of a person was captured on the Clicks system but there was no way of knowing for certain that it was a M Naidoo who made the purchase.
In a statement read out in court yesterday by Vijay Sivakumoor, representing Naidoo, Naidoo said he was not involved in the planning or killing of the Lotter couple and was forced by police to confess to a crime he was not aware of.
Taking the matter into a trial-within-trial, Sivakumoor said his client would give evidence that he was not informed of his legal rights and was put under duress by police who assaulted him.
The State called Warrant Officer Peter George from the Cato Manor organised crime unit, who said he read Naidoo his rights.
George said Naidoo was not assaulted in his presence and described Naidoo, whom he said he had a lengthy conversation with, as an “intelligent somebody”.
The trial continues.