The bizarre murder of Sutherland policeman Jacob Boleme, allegedly by a French couple with links to a US-based cult, the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, has shone a spotlight on the unusual American organisation.
Notes on the Ramtha School of Enlightenment were found alongside medical supplies, emergency packs and survival guides in the fugitive couple’s farmhouse.
The school was started in 1988 by Judy Zebra (JZ) Knight, a 64-year-old American who claims to be the sole channel for a 35 000-year-old “spiritual entity” named Ramtha.
Web reports estimated in 2008 that the school had around 6 000 members.
Knight was born in Roswell, New Mexico, long regarded as a Mecca for conspiracy theorists because of its history of claimed UFO sightings.
She claims that Ramtha first contacted her in 1977.
The organisation’s website claims that Ramtha’s teachings are a “unique science” which allow followers to experience the “concepts of reality”.
Telepathy and quantum physics are given as key concepts to be learnt by devotees of Ramtha.
The French fugitives allegedly involved in the Sutherland shooting were said to be paranoid about the end of the world and believed they would have to fend for themselves in the bush.
According to web reports, Ramtha’s teachings involve discussions about the “end times” - including the Mayan prediction that the world will end in 2012.
The Ramtha cult claims to have members from all over the world, including children as young as six.
It claims that a panel of scientists “using the latest technology” cleared JZ Knight of allegations of “fakery and schizophrenia” in 1996.
Many members are based at the organisation’s headquarters in Yelm, Washington State, where classes are sometimes held outside regardless of weather conditions.
The organisation is believed to have expanded its reach abroad with JZ Knight visiting a number of countries, including South Africa.
The school is a division of JZK Inc, a company registered in Yelm. The school copyrights a wide variety of merchandise, which it sells online under the Ramtha and JZ Knight brands, including books, DVDs, CDs, clothing and playing cards. Many books and DVDs are sold for as much as $25 (R170).
JZ Knight’s claims of being a clairvoyant with telepathic abilities have been ridiculed by scientists. She has been involved in several personal and business court cases including against an ex-husband.
Allegations of sexual abuse dogged the school in the late 1990s when a 15-year-old girl accused a teacher and another woman of having sex with her. - Cape Times