Mixed feelings over Theologo verdict

Johannesburg - Two men were convicted of the satanic murder of Kirsty Theologo on Thursday while a young woman escaped jail, evoking mixed feelings outside court.

A fourth accused, Harvey Isha, was acquitted of all charges.

Linden Wagner and Robin Harwood were found guilty in the high court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court of the assault, murder and attempted murder of Theologo, 18, and her friend who was 14-years-old old at the time.

Wagner and Harwood embraced their families for a long time after court proceedings were adjourned.

The court heard Theologo was struck on the head several times with a rock in October 2011 on a hill in Linmeyer, south of Johannesburg.

She was then doused with petrol and set alight as part of a soul-selling ritual by a group of people, who were known as her friends.

Judge Geraldine Borchers said she believed Isha’s testimony that he played no part in the killing.

He claimed to have been afraid and had watched from behind a tree as Theologo and her friend were attacked by his friends.

Isha said he could not freely flee the group so he managed to leave the next day after telling them that he was heading home to collect his passport and flee to him home country, the Congo.

Isha however, is a refugee national who does not have a passport.

Borchers said his statement coincided with the two State witnesses, Lester Moody and Jeremy King.

King and Moody had earlier confessed to the killings and were sentenced to 17 years in prison, five of which were suspended.

"Him lying about the passport [to the other accused] shows that he could not freely go," said Borchers.

"His evidence is believable."

A pregnant woman believed to be a close friend of Isha wept after Borchers said that Isha was a free man.

She was comforted by Isha’s mother.

After signing his court documents, Isha left the court without being seen by any of the media.

Family’s reaction

Theologo’s cousin, however, wept and said she could not believe that Isha, and another accused were set free.

The other accused, Courtney Daniels also left the court a free woman.

She was acquitted of the murder and attempted murder charges.

"[It is] because you did not know that there was a murder planned," said Borchers.

She said none of the evidence presented to the court also suggested that Daniels was interested in Satanism.

"She was excited to see spirits and happy to be invited by older boys to go drinking and smoking ," said Borchers.

"I am unable to infer that she knew of everything."

She convicted Daniels of common assault after it was found that she had laced the victims’ drinks with brake fluid prior to the attack.

Daniels lawyer, Enrico Guarneri, asked the court to give his client a suspended sentence or a R1 000 fine.

Members of Theologo’s family gasped in disbelief, while one woman burst into tears.

Guarneri told the court that Daniels was 16-years-old at the time of the crime, and was now suffering from depression because of it.

In delivering Daniel’s sentence, Borchers said she took into consideration that Daniels was a first time offender, who was still a minor when the attack occurred and she had been enticed by the idea of older boys wanting to include her in their plans.

"I hope you will not err again," said Borchers.

"You have a chance of turning your life around... I am not going to imprison you," she said.

She handed Daniels a six month imprisonment sentence, which was suspended for five years.

Daniels mother, Melanie, told reporters outside court that she was happy that the ordeal had ended.

"I want to thank God from the bottom of my heart," said Melanie Daniels.

"I hope my daughter has learnt her lesson and I pray that no one will go through what we went through for the last two years," she said.

Courtney Daniels was also very emotional after hearing that she had been found guilty of at least one charge.

She left the court with an entourage of her family.


Meanwhile, Wagner and Harwood were to be sentenced on Friday.

The two men appeared to be in disbelief of their fate as they hugged their family members and chatted to them briefly during a short adjournment after the verdict was delivered.

Delivering her verdict, Borchers said she did not believe some parts of Wagner ‘s testimony.

She described him as "a thoroughly unimpressive witness who was sly and dishonest and attempted to evade giving evidence", said Borchers.

Wagner had told the court that something had come over him when he attacked his friend Theologo.

He admitted that he had intended to sell his soul that night in return for power but nothing had happened.

He gave a detailed account of how a five-pointed star was drawn at the place where the girls were to be sacrificed. A fire was made and a bible was thrown into it. He and some of his co-accused then cut their hands and dripped their blood into the blaze.

Some of them had planned to eat Theologo’s flesh, drink her blood and burn her body.

Wagner said his and the other ritual partakers souls were meant to be received by the beast referred to in a Bible passage in the book of Revelations.

While Wagner had told the court that he had loved Theologo, Borchers said it was clear that he had acted with direct intent to harm Theologo and her friend.

The same was said for Harwood, who was also reported to have been in a brief relationship with Theologo a while before the ritual.

Borchers said he was one of the core members of the group.

She said he was vague and evasive when giving evidence.

Borchers dismissed his claims that he was also possessed by an evil spirit and said dagga and liquor had affected him.

Harwood’s mother told the media that she preferred to reserve her comment until Friday, when her son was expected to receive his sentence.

An emotional mother

Theologo’s mother, Sylivia, was emotional after the trial.

"I wish they didn’t kill my child," she said.

She commended Borchers, saying she looked like "a fair woman who has a lot of experience".

Dressed in a purple and white polka-dot top, jeans and boots, she held the picture of Kirsty as she spoke to the media while seated on a bench outside court.

She cried and said she was finished.

"All my kids have changed," she said.

"My kids were always together... If I’m in so much pain, I can’t imagine what they are going through." she added.

She said she was happy to hear during the proceedings that her daughter had fought her attackers.

"I am so proud of her. She fought hard," she said.

She said she had no problem with Daniels and Harwood being set free.

As Isha’s lawyer walked passed a short while later, she commended him on a "good job", saying she had no bad blood towards Isha.

"I have known him for years," she said.

She had received support from several of her family members, some of whom were wearing T-shirts bearing Theologo’s picture on them. Theologo’s grandmother also carried a teddy bear in court.

"Kirsty is with us," she told some of the other family members seated next to her.

The sentencing of Wagner and Harwood would be held on Friday.

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