There is a resurgence of dabbling in Satanism in South Africa, says world-renowned expert on the occult and Pastor of Destiny Harvest Church in Umhlanga, Marc Bredenkamp, who himself has had his child abducted by Satanists.

Bredenkamp - a big, powerful, imposing man with long hair - was a Satanist before converting to Christianity more than 20 years ago. He has previously worked to combat Satanism near Krugersdorp, where last week 18-year-old Morne Harmse went on a slashing spree with a Samurai sword killing a fellow pupil, 16-year-old Jacques Pretorius, and injuring three others.

Harmse appeared in the Krugersdorp magistrate's court this week where he said he had had visions of a ghost which told him to become a Satanist. He will spend a month at Sterkfontein Hospital under the observation of three psychiatrists and a psychologist.

Bredenkamp had his 12-year-old son abducted by Satanists 10 years ago and has had his life threatened a number of times over the years.

He said there has been a dormant period of about seven years during which Satanism "went underground after coming under a lot pressure".

Some of this pressure was brought to bear by Christian ministers like Bredenkamp, through his involvement in the South African Police Service Occult Unit which dealt with police cases involving Satanism. During that time Bredenkamp was interviewed by television news network CNN, SABC's Good Morning South Africa and M-Net's Carte Blanche programmes and enjoyed world-wide media coverage for his campaign to warn youth about Satanism. His aim was to expose the truths about what young people were getting themselves involved in. The SAPS Occult Unit has since been disbanded.

Bredenkamp, who has an honorary doctorate in divinity and has spoken on five continents about Satanism, says while reading about Harmse's incident he could relate to what he had read and heard of the case because of his own experience as a self-styled Satanist.

By observing Harmse's reported behaviour, Bredenkamp believes that the boy is a self-styled Satanist. This term refers to people who follow a form of Satanism which they evolve themselves and are not governed by any other group or individual.

Bredenkamp says this is one of four forms of Satanism in South Africa. The other forms are "dabblers, organised and generational".

According to Bredenkamp "dabblers" might be outwardly seeking attention by wearing a T-shirt adorned with a devil's image or dressing in a certain way. These people were usually not heavily into Satanism itself.

Then there was "organisational" Satanism, which has a structure with high priests and temples, similar to the church of Satan in America, and, thirdly, "generational" Satanism, where children were brought up in Satanism.

Bredenkamp is concerned about young South Africans who are involved in Satanism and the occult. He said people did not realise the amount of fear these children were living in and how difficult it was for them to get out once they were in. He said children coming out of Satanism and the occult needed spiritual, emotional and medical support.

There are many factors which lead to children getting involved in Satanism, according to Bredenkamp. Among these are boredom, peer pressure, money and power, but in some cases children were unaware of what they were becoming involved in.

Bredenkamp, who has been helping children involved in Satanism for the past 20 years and has housed recovering witches, said Satanic groups operated on fear and people could not get out because the group threatens to kill their family or do something to them.

Apart from numerous death threats and attacks from Satanic groups, Bredenkamp recalled the time his eight-year-old son was abducted by Satanists. He said they threatened to kill his son and wanted him to offer his life in exchange for his son's. He approached the young girl who had abducted his son and began praying for her. In so doing, he helped expel the evil spirits from her.

Bredenkamp also operates in what Christians refer to as the deliverance ministry, where evil spirits are expelled or cast out of people.

He says a lot of children in South Africa are very perceptive about the spiritual realm and often try speaking to adults, parents or even the church about it but many don't believe them.

He said during a radio broadcast where he was speaking about the spirit world the radio station lines were inundated with calls from young people wanting to share their experiences.

Heavy metal

Harmse is said to have been influenced by the heavy metal group Slipknot, whose lyrics have been described by critics as being Satanic.

Bredenkamp says death metal or heavy metal music can play a role because the lyrics are hopeless and make the listener believe there is no hope in the future, but he added that this did not mean that the music was entirely to blame.

He said young people needed to know there was hope and said they had to find a higher power than Satan to be able to break free.

While he was involved in Satanism he met a Christian friend and although the demons inside him told him to kill this friend he found that there was something about this friend that was stronger than the power he had.

He said parents should be vigilant and take note if their children start acting strangely.

"If they light a candle in a skull and start dressing in black, if there is a pentagram on the floor and they become very anti-social, these are signs."

Bredenkamp said these types of behavioural patterns did not automatically mean the child was delving into Satanism but it was a red flag that parents should start investigating.

He said ministers like himself had previously had a lot of access to schools and had spoken to thousands of school children about some of the dangers of Satanism, but he said, of late, schools had closed their doors to them.

  • Concerned parents may visit Bredenkamp's website at www.destiny.co.za