Nicolette Lotter and Hardus Lotter on 31 July 2008, after appearing in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane.
Nicolette Lotter and Hardus Lotter on 31 July 2008, after appearing in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane.
Nicolette Lotter during her trial on 28 October 2011. Picture: Puri Devjee.
Nicolette Lotter during her trial on 28 October 2011. Picture: Puri Devjee.
09/11/2011 Durban High Court acuse number one Hardus Lotter.
PICTURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU
09/11/2011 Durban High Court acuse number one Hardus Lotter. PICTURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU
DURBAN 07-11-2011
Lotter case, Matthew Naidoo.
Picture by: S'bonelo Ngcobo
DURBAN 07-11-2011 Lotter case, Matthew Naidoo. Picture by: S'bonelo Ngcobo

All eyes have been on the three accused who, during their nearly three weeks on trial, have referred to Bugs Bunny, Harry Potter, Satanism, cults, a third son of God, a tokoloshe, demons and witchcraft.

While each has testified, one cannot help but notice how three years have taken their toll on their physical appearances.

Nicolette and Hardus Lotter have been held in the awaiting trial section of Westville Prison. Naidoo, until recently, had been under house arrest but his R20 000 bail was revoked more than a week ago by Durban High Court Judge Shyam Gyanda after he listened to Naidoo change his plea from not guilty to guilty, then back to not guilty.

Naidoo, like his co-accused, will have to wait in prison until March 5 for their next court appearance.

Hardus was 20 at the time of the murders. At his first appearance in Pinetown Magistrate’s Court he seemed lost and dishevelled, but on his second he appeared more groomed and together.

However, Naidoo’s alleged “curse” on Hardus that he would become fat and bald appears to bear some truth, as Hardus appeared older than his 23 years, plumper and with a receding hairline during the trial, which began in the Durban High Court last month.

During his evidence-in-chief, Hardus broke down, saying his mother’s last words to him as he held her down in their kitchen were that she loved him. He also said he would not have killed his father if he had asked for forgiveness.

While all three have pleaded not guilty to the double murders, Nicolette and Hardus have admitted to the crimes while blaming Naidoo.

Hardus testified that he believed it was God’s will that his parents be sacrificed and blamed Naidoo, who was once his close friend, for “destroying” his life.

Other than his breakdown in the witness box, Hardus seemed composed during his testimony, though at times his speech and behaviour hinted at his being on medication for depression. In the dock, he sat either hunched over or rocked back and forth in a child-like manner. The only time he smiled was when he greeted relatives and supporters. He also smiled and looked to the sky, mouthing “yes” when Naidoo changed his plea.

All three sat far apart from one another in the dock.

Naidoo, who had lost a great deal of weight since his first court appearance, had to be told by a court orderly to walk down into the holding cells, as he still wanted to keep his distance from the siblings.

Naidoo was the only one of the three who was granted bail.

Initially, his bail was denied and on appeal he was granted R20 000 bail, which was raised by his mother and his community in Palmview, Phoenix.

His mother, Rita, is a single parent and before Naidoo moved into the Westville house with Nicolette – who said it was without her parents’ knowledge – he lived with her in an outbuilding in Palmview.

During Naidoo’s bail application, the court learnt that while he lived with Nicolette in Westville, he had told his mother he was working in the UK.

Soon after matriculating, Naidoo became a security guard posted at Edgars at the Pavilion shopping mall for five months until he resigned. He then worked as a cutting manager in a clothing factory for a year and resigned to become self-employed as an artist.

Hardus testified that Naidoo had told his parents he was a clothing factory manager. He said his father had hired someone to investigate this and none of the clothing factories contacted could confirm it.

 

Naidoo listened, expressionless, to Hardus’s and Nicolette’s testimonies.

Before being sent back to prison, each day Naidoo would be dressed formally in a different shirt and tie, clean-shaven and with his hair gelled. However, once back at Westville Prison, he wore the same set of clothes from the day his bail was revoked.

From curious observers in the gallery to court reporters, everyone commented on the change in Nicolette’s appearance from the first day that she appeared in the magistrate’s court.

Many said she was the only one of the three who had blossomed since the case started.

She lost weight, wore make-up at each court appearance and looked much younger than her 29 years.

While in the dock, she appeared not to be listening to testimony from the various witnesses but, while testifying, it became apparent that she had been.

She either made notes in a hard-cover notebook, which she passed to her lawyer, advocate Theuns Botha, or read his court file.

During breaks, she was often be seeing consulting either Hardus’s lawyer, advocate Roland Parsotham, or Botha. Her Bible and prayer beads were her constant companions. She was also always neatly dressed and changed into jeans and a sweater before returning to prison.

Her smiles were reserved for her lawyer, family and group of loyal supporters who provided the siblings with food and daily care packages.

While testifying, she was calm, confident and at times meticulous about detail. She often had to be told to slow down.

The court heard her speak of witchcraft, being raped by a tokoloshe and of her relationship with Naidoo and her parents, but it now has to wait until next year to hear her version of what happened on July 19, 2008. - Daily News

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