Cape Town – A reverend has testified in the Western Cape High Court that Aljar Swartz was possessed by demons when he beheaded a Ravensmead teenager in October 2013.
On Thursday, Reverend Cecil Begbie, a minister of the Methodist Church for fifty years, was called to testify in mitigation of sentence.
Begbie told the court he had visited Swartz in Pollsmoor prison five times since he was incarcerated for the murder of 15-year-old Lee Adams.
Swartz was last month found guilty of the gruesome beheading at an abandoned school in Cape Town in October 2013.
Western Cape High Court judge Elize Steyn also found him guilty of three counts of incitement to commit murder.
In February, Swartz admitted to strangling the Ravensmead teen on 17 October, 2013. He then stabbed him numerous times, and finally decapitated him.
A security guard found the body at a school, while the head was later found in a shallow grave buried in the accused’s garden.
It is alleged that Swartz planned to sell the head of his victim to a sangoma for R5,000.
He claimed he was a satanist at the time, but state prosecutor Carine Teunissen disputed this earlier in the trial and said there had been no evidence of a satanic ritual carried out.
But Begbie told the Western Cape High Court on Thursday that Swartz had been possessed by demons and that was why he felt it necessary to perform an exorcism at Pollsmoor prison.
The prison, however, denied the reverend permission to carry this out.
When defence lawyer Sheriff Mohamed asked him to testify about other exorcisms he had performed, Judge Steyn interjected.
She said: “If you want to lead evidence on magic or witchcraft I’m not going to allow that.
“Have you seen how many times in court the accused say the devil made me do it, and no court has ever accepted that in mitigation”, she added.
Begbie told the court that he had sent out the word to church groups to do a special prayer for Swartz, after his request to perform an exorcism was turned down by Pollsmoor.
On Good Friday they all stretched out their arms towards the prison and prayed.
He said they prayed for all inmates, not just for Swartz. When Begbie visited Swartz last week Friday, he said he could see a radical change.
Swartz told him that about three weeks ago, when the collective prayer was held, he felt that he was standing under a waterfall with pure, clean water flowing through his body.
Begbie said Swartz had felt free of demons as a result of the prayers and was now able to sleep undisturbed.
“He had peace of heart and mind, and had accepted Jesus into his heart and the Holy Spirit had descended on him.”
He said Swartz had told him that in a normal state he would not have committed a murder, but he had been influenced by “satanic attacks”.
He testified that he believed Swartz had a guardian demon who instructed him, “so he wasn’t in his right mind”.
The reverend further told the court that the accused was now remorseful and would like to apologise to the family, to the schools involved and the court whose time has been taken up by this.
The state prosecutor pointed out that the court had already found that the murder had been an act of greed and that no satanism was involved.
But Begbie insisted Swartz’s behaviour had been that of someone possessed, and not a cold blooded murderer.
Judge Steyn responded: “This is not a case about satanism, it’s about a young man who took the life of another young man.”
African News Agency
* Use IOL’s Facebook and Twitter pages to comment on our stories. See links below.