Samurai sword boy had 'satanic ghost' vision

Published Aug 28, 2008


By Alex Eliseev and Kanina Foss

The door into the mind of alleged samurai sword killer Morne Harmse has opened.

Behind it lie depression, a possible personality disorder, and his visions of a ghost summoning him to become a Satanist.

The 18-year-old will now spend some time at Sterkfontein Hospital, where three psychiatrists and a psychologist will determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

On Wednesday, Harmse made his second appearance at the Krugersdorp magistrate's court in connection with the Nic Diederichs Technical High School slaying.

Dr MM Molefi-Litheko examined Harmse on Monday and compiled a report, which was on Wednesday read into the court record. The proceedings lasted just nine minutes.

"Patient (Harmse) alleges that he had seen a ghost in a field on a farm that he and his parents rented," the doctor's report read.

"He alleges that the ghost instructed him to be a Satanist."

Molefi-Litheko added: "He looked depressed. He had a good insight into the incident."

Harmse will return to court on September 26, by which stage it will be clearer whether he can be put on trial for the murder of 16-year-old Jacques Pretorius, and the attempted murder of three others at the school.

The scrawny teenager stepped into the dock at 9:12am on Wednesday, dressed in a bright-blue sweatshirt and cargo pants.

His parents, Machiel and Liza Harmse, were seated a metre or two away from him in the first row. Liza wore black and cried softly as she saw her son enter the dock.

Machiel called out his son's name but the teenager didn't look back once.

Harmse stood slouched over in the dock with his hands held in front of him. He spoke only twice, each time to answer magistrate Erina Breedt with a soft "Ja".

In the front row, his parents held hands and Machiel fidgeted nervously with a set of keys. When his son was taken back to the holding cells - without looking at the public gallery - Machiel too could not hold back tears.

Walking out of the courtroom, the pair politely declined to speak to the media.

Trauma counsellor Natisha Hoffman, there to support Harmse's parents, told The Star: "They are very emotional, but they're stable and reaching out for help."

Hoffman said Liza had told her "only God can help us".

While his first appearance was without legal assistance, on Wednesday Harmse was represented by attorney Dolph Jonker.

During his stay at Sterkfontein Hospital, Harmse will be under observation by a hospital psychiatrist and two other psychiatrists - one of whom will testify in his defence and the other for the state.

They will try to establish whether Harmse knew what he was doing at the time of the attack, and whether he knew it was wrong.

Police detectives have pieced together most of the details of the August 18 attack, and are lining up witnesses to help convict Harmse for what they believe was a premeditated act.

It's alleged that a group of seven pupils met three days before the strike and discussed various ways of committing a school massacre.

Harmse, it appears, was the only one to take the discussion seriously.

last week Monday, he arrived at school with three samurai swords and a small knife in his red schoolbag. He had also packed three homemade masks resembling those worn by heavy-metal band Slipknot.

Before the first school bell rang, Harmse - with black paint smeared on his face - is alleged to have fatally slashed Pretorius' throat, then wounded another pupil and two of the school's groundsmen.


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