We still love killer siblings – Rev. Lotter

2012-03-20 08:04

Reverend Willem Lotter – whose brother Johannes Petrus “Johnny” (53) and sister-in-law Maria Magdalena “Riekie” Lotter (52) were murdered by their children in their Durban home in 2008 – says the court case produced “the truth that the family was longing for”.

Nicolette (29) and Hardus (23) were sentenced to 12 years and 10 years imprisonment respectively by the Durban High Court yesterday for their parents’ murders – 44 months after admitting to the crime. The siblings were found to have had diminished responsibility in the killings.

Nicolette has to serve at least 10 years of her sentence before being eligible for parole while Hardus will qualify for parole in six years’ time.

Mathew Naidoo, Nicolette’s ex-boyfriend who was declared the mastermind in the murders, received two life sentences. Naidoo, who portrayed himself as the third son of God, were found to have brainwashed the siblings into believing that their parents were standing in the way of God’s work on earth.

The court “found no substantial and compelling evidence that he was repentant” or that he could be rehabilitated since he still maintained no wrongdoing.

Lotter would not comment beyond the statement released to journalists but said that there was a “sense of relief and closure” that the case was over.

“The case was pending for so long and we had to wait until October 2011 for the trial to start in earnest. The time lapse made it very difficult for us to come to terms with a very sad and tragic event in our lives. The huge public interest made it all the more difficult to find comfort and closure,” he said.

Testifying in mitigation of sentence for his niece Nicolette, Lotter did not mince his words about the wrongfulness of the crime the siblings had committed: “Stand up, take responsibility for your conduct and stop shifting the blame,” he said.

However, he also affirmed his love for and forgiveness of his brother’s children in statements such as: “Hardus and Nicolette, I stand here today on behalf of your parents. They would have taken the opportunity to (testify) in mitigation for you if they could have been here. I would like to repeat Riekie’s last words: ‘I love you’ and Johnny’s last words: ‘We can work this out’.”

Lotter said he suspected that the majority of his family members, like him, were committed to forgiving the siblings.

“We still love you but hate what you did to your parents and our loved ones. We are in solidarity with you because we all sin by murdering through words and attitudes. But we are forgiven by the grace of God,” he added.

Lotter said the impact of the murders on the family was devastating. He told the court that, three days after receiving the news of the tragedy, the Lotter siblings’ paternal grandmother died of a stroke.

“Fortunately she died without learning the involvement of her grandchildren. The grandparents on both sides suffered heavily from post-traumatic stress disorder. Riekie’s mother has since died. Both grandfathers are suffering from dementia and do not comprehend the proceedings and the outcome of this court case. In a sense it is an act of grace by God,” he said.

Lotter said the couple had hired a private investigator from Germany when the family received threatening letters, which the court has since established to have been sent by Naidoo.

“I can clearly remember how we lived with Johnny and Riekie through the agony, who were concerned for the wellbeing of their children. They as parents did everything in their power to protect their children. But the worst part of it was that they were betrayed from within. Security was set up to detect danger from the
outside when danger was inside.”

While he admitted that the family still battled to show forgiveness of the convicted siblings, Lotter said he and his sister decided to visit the pair for the first time in jail seven months into their imprisonment and in the month that Hardus had turned 21 to present both siblings with “the gift of forgiveness”.

“I think we really forgave that day although it felt mechanical at that stage. It had been a difficult emotional and spiritual encounter,” Lotter told the packed court.

“We met murderers that day but they had been the same young people we knew and loved all along. They were crying a lot, showing remorse, and expressing their gratitude that we did not reject them. Both of them so desperately expressed a yearning to turn back the clock.”

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