In chilling confessions penned just hours after allegedly murdering their parents, siblings Hardus and Nicolette Lotter gave blow-by-blow accounts of how they committed the crimes – and put the blame squarely on the shoulders of their co-accused, Nicolette’s former boyfriend, Mathew Naidoo.
“I did not have hate in my heart when I committed the deed,” Nicolette, now 29, said of the events of July 28, 2008, during which she plunged a knife into her mother, school teacher Rickie Lotter.
She says she did it “because I loved God” and Naidoo, now 25, had told her it was God’s will.
“I will be honest when I say that my mother really got on my and my brother’s nerves, but if I did not believe in my heart that it’s God’s will to take her life, I would never, ever have done it.
“My mother did talk to me disrespectfully pretty often, and I was her punching bag for most of my life, but I’m serious when I say that neither me nor my brother would have pulled this off and done this deed if we did not believe in what Mathew said to be true,” she said in the lengthy confession written in her own hand 48 hours after the brutal murders of Johan and Rickie at their Thames Avenue, Westville home.
The confessions were handed in at the start of the trial before Durban High Court Judge Shyam Gyanda on Monday, but the siblings pleaded not guilty, Nicolette opting to remain silent while her brother, now 23, claimed to lack criminal capacity for his actions because of the “extreme duress” placed on him by Naidoo.
Naidoo also pleaded not guilty, claiming that he had had nothing to do with the crime.
He is disputing the admissibility of a pointing-out and a statement he made to police, claiming his rights were violated because he had asked for an attorney but was refused one, and he was assaulted.
Hardus, who has aged visibly in the three years he has been in prison awaiting trial, said in his confession, signed a day after the murders, that Naidoo had convinced him and his sister that he was the son of God and that their parents were “a problem”.
He described in detail the events leading up to July 19, including other botched attempts to kill them.
The final plan was for them to shock them with a stun gun until they were unconscious, and then tie them up and inject air bubbles into their veins, causing heart attacks.
That evening, he said, his sister lured their mother into the kitchen to drink coffee. He came from behind and shocked her, but while it caused her to fall off her chair, she did not pass out and started screaming.
“While I was shocking my mother, Nicky was holding her down. I shocked her on her neck but she carried on screaming, fighting back.”
When the plan failed, Nicolette left Hardus holding down his mother and went to fetch Naidoo from the Pavilion shopping centre. She returned 10 minutes later, took a knife and stabbed her mother about four times.
“She bled a lot and died within 15 minutes,” said Hardus.
Nicolette said Naidoo had been angry with her brother “because he messed up and lied that the Taser (which they had tested initially on Hardus) was strong enough to knock a person out”.
As punishment, Naidoo told him that he had to kill their father “by strangulation” and then “go with God” (meaning suicide).
“I told my brother I loved him... and then left with Mathew. I believed this was the will of God, but I did not believe Hardus could pull it off,” she said.
While they shopped in places which had security cameras so they had an alibi, Hardus was at home, doing the deed.
He says in his statement he strangled his sleeping father with an electrical cord. It took about 30 minutes because his father had woken and fought back.
His sister and Naidoo then returned and they concocted a story that two armed men had entered the house, assaulted and locked him in his room – a story they told police when they arrived.
Her blonde hair tied back from her face and dressed in white, Nicolette Lotter put her hands up in prayer, nodded and then smiled at her aunt and uncle seated in the gallery.
Antoinette and Willem Lotter smiled uneasily back at their niece, who is charged along with her brother Hardus and former boyfriend Mathew Naidoo, with the murders of Johan and Rickie Lotter.
Also in the gallery is attorney Piet Mathee, who is on a watching brief for Nicolette’s and Hardus’s sister, Christelle – a Stellenbosch University student.
“I am here for her,” he said outside the Durban High Court where the three are on trial for the murders.
“I will be liaising with her and keeping her informed of what is said.”
During yesterday’s proceedings Nicolette appeared, at times, to be disinterested, reading her bible and speaking to herself.
Hardus appeared pained at some of the evidence and at one stage held his hand to his chest.
Proceedings began with the evidence of Westville detective Warrant Officer Justice Duma, who attended the crime scene at Thames Place in the early hours of July 20, 2008.
He said he had previously known the Lotter family because Nicolette and Hardus had laid complaints with the police about two alleged robberies “by two unknown |men” during which threats had been made against their parents that “their days are numbered”.
Johan Lotter had also laid a complaint about threats he had received via SMS.
One, received in June that year, said: “You make me sick. Your days are numbered. We will kill you one month from today. If I was you I would start praying.”
Another said: “I mean business. Amen.”
Duma said he was aware that Naidoo was staying at the house, but “he had been expelled by Mrs Lotter” and Nicolette would sneak him in to sleep over.
When he arrived at the scene, all three accused were there. Nicolette told him she had discovered her parents dead and her brother locked in his room when she arrived home. She claimed to have found house keys and a note on the wall by the garage, which is above the house.
The note read:
“To Whom It May Concern.
“I have done what I said I was going to do. To any investigators that are investigating this, you have 3 suspects to choose form (sic) in my opinion. Nikki/Nicolette or whatever it is, Hardus Johannes and of course the boyfriend Mathew/Matthias. So who is it? If you find out, tell me.”
There was reference to Job 3 verses 16-19. Duma said he had also found a number of unsigned, threatening letters addressed to Hardus, Nicolette, “Johnny” (Johan), Maria (Rickie) and “any police official reading this”.
The latter said: “You will never catch me… you are never going to find me. Trust me, all leads you have are only going to point back to the Lotter family.”
The trial continues on Tuesday. - The Mercury