Satanic ritual survivor speaks out

2015-04-01 12:49
Bronwyn Grammar (Supplied to News24)

Bronwyn Grammar (Supplied to News24)

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Johannesburg - Deep fear gripped Bronwyn Grammar when she unexpectedly came face-to-face with Harvey Isha - the man who watched from behind a tree as she and her friend were soaked with petrol and set alight as part of an alleged satanic soul-selling ritual by her own friends.

"I went to my mom last year some time and I saw him walking in the streets there in the south [of Johannesburg]... He looked at me and he called me but you know that cold shiver you get in your body when you know that you just want to go somewhere safe," Grammar, 18, said.

"I turned around and I walked and he kept calling me and I thought to myself: 'No!'... I just got that cold shiver," Grammar said as she fiddled with a white woollen scarf placed on her grey school pants.

Set alight

Isha was part of a group of three boys and a young girl who were arrested and tried for the attack on Grammar, then aged 14, and her best friend Kirsty Theologo, 18, in October 2011.

The group lured Grammar and Theologo to a hilltop in Linmeyer, armed with a knife, petrol, rope, a lighter, candles and a Bible.

In a trial that made headlines, it emerged that she and Theologo were served drinks laced with brake fluid. Theologo was tied up and hit on the head with a brick. Both girls were then doused with petrol and set alight in what was to be a satanic sacrifice the attackers believed would give them power, wealth and fame.

Theologo carried Grammar from the mountaintop to her home and later died from the severe burn wounds she had suffered.

Isha and the other three accused spent about two years in jail as the attempted murder and murder trial ran its course. When the verdict was delivered in November 2013, Judge Geraldine Borchers acquitted him of all charges, saying she did not believe that he intended to participate in the ritual with his friends.

Cousins Lindon Wagner and Robin Harwood were handed lengthy jail terms while the other accused, Courtney Daniels, was handed a suspended sentence.


Grammar said she did not know Isha that well, but she was disappointed that he watched as they were attacked.

He told the court he was shocked by what had unfolded before him.

"I didn't expect anything from him but what hurt the most is that he didn't help us although he got threatened," she said.

"They all ran away after me and Kirsty were set alight, including Harvey. Why didn't he come back and not help us if he is so innocent?" she asked.

Grammar said she is no position to judge him but has left it all in God's hands.

"I was in bed one night and I thought to myself: I'm praying to God every night and I ask him to help me through this and how can I ask for forgiveness if I can't forgive," she said.

"That is when it clicked to me that I'm not going to tell anybody that I'm forgiving them because nobody has to know, as long as I know that I am setting myself free from them."

Foster homes

The years since the attack have been long for Grammar and have seen her - one of seven children - move from one foster home to another as her mother could not afford to support her.

As Grammar starts a new chapter to her life, she hardly speaks of the night of the attack.

Grammar says it was difficult for her to comprehend what had happened to her and Theologo when she came face-to-face with her attackers in court.

"The first time I was in court, I broke down. All the memories and the flashbacks and moments that we had and time we spent together just shot through me," Grammar said.

"I was broken, angry, sad, confused, lost, hurt, confused, hurt, you name it," she says.

"It was hard because they were friends. At that time I couldn't put the picture together... Friends and hurt. It didn't make sense," she says.


In several court proceedings, Grammar draped scarves around her neck to hide the scars left behind by the petrol burns she sustained that night.

But on the day of her interview with News24, Grammar appeared more confident with her neck displayed bare.

She contemplates a future as a teacher if she can raise funds to study, and dreams of travelling and a future filled with success.

For now, however, her focus remains on her schooling. One day at a time.

Read more on:    kirsty theologo  |  johannesburg
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