Hardus Lotter 'like a lamb to the slaughter'

2012-03-12 19:32
Durban - Hardus Lotter, accused of murdering both his parents, was like a "lamb to the slaughter", his lawyer Roland Parsotham told the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Monday.

If he had "taken the bait" he would have committed suicide after the double murders, as instructed by his sister's former boyfriend Mathew Naidoo.

But Hardus was so shocked after the murders it probably stopped him taking his own life, Parsotham said in his closing arguments. Judgment would be handed down on Tuesday.

It had been claimed in previous court hearings that if Hardus, now 23, had committed suicide, he would have been blamed for the murders and his sister Nicolette, 29, and Naidoo, 25, would have been exonerated.

State advocate Rea Mina said Hardus was "always going to be the fall guy".

The third son of God

The siblings and Naidoo have denied murdering school teacher Maria Magdalena "Riekie" Lotter, 52, and businessman Johannes Petrus "Johnny" Lotter, 53 at their Westville, Durban home in July 2008.

The siblings said they were under the influence of Naidoo, who told them he was the third son of God and that God wanted their parents dead for their sins.

Nicolette stabbed her mother with a kitchen knife. Hardus strangled his father with an electrical cord.

Parsotham said on Monday that Naidoo had played mind games with Hardus, who was psychologically trapped, and caught in a web of lies.

Hardus had been under extreme duress, emotional stress and pressure for 17 months and was not in his sound and sober senses at the time of the murders. It had been extremely difficult to escape and stop doing what he had done.

His belief that it was God's will was reinforced by his sister, who conceded her brother looked up to her.

Similar case

Hardus had a diminished criminal capacity at the time of the offence, said Parsotham, calling for the court to acquit him.

Parsotham referred to the 1994 KwaZulu-Natal High Court case involving Xerxes Nursingh, who was acquitted of murdering his mother and her parents.

Nursingh's mother had emotionally and sexually abused him, and the central issue was whether he had criminal capacity at the time of the offence.

Expert evidence was that he had been stressed and abused, and in the grip of sane automatism, and the State had not called witnesses to rebut this. Nursingh was acquitted.

Parsotham said in this case the State had not called any witnesses to challenge the expert evidence of clinical psychologist Lourens Schlebusch, who told the court last week he believed the siblings were victims of religious programming and "cohesive persuasion", which reached cult-like dimensions at times.

Obsessed with dysfunctional religious convictions

Advocate Theuns Botha for Nicolette told the court that at the time of the murders her self-control had been profoundly influenced by her obsession with dysfunctional religious convictions.

In addition she was psychologically vulnerable, had a stressful relationship with Naidoo during which she was exposed to mind control, "religious remoulding" and abuse akin to battered woman syndrome.

Her power of resistance was also influenced by the gradual breakdown of her original belief system, and the collapse of her allegiance to her parents.

Botha submitted Nicolette had laid a factual foundation which at least established a reasonable doubt, and said that if the court was satisfied with her reliability and truthfulness, she should be acquitted.

Alternatively if she was convicted, it was submitted she acted out of diminished responsibility.

Naidoo's lawyer, Vijay Sivakumoor, said it was reasonably possible that Naidoo was not present at the crime, or disposed of evidence afterwards.

State advocate Mina said it was clear the murders were premeditated and the three accused were involved.

What had to be decided was whether Naidoo's influence over the Lotters was such that they did not know what they were doing.

She recalled that Schlebusch had said when he was cross-examined on Friday that while it would have been difficult for the Lotters to control themselves, it was not impossible.
Read more on:    nicolette lotter  |  mathew naidoo  |  hardus lotter  |  durban  |  lotter trial

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