The Other Side of Sensationalism

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When it comes to mainstream media, gone are the days where journalistic integrity was prized and where a story was about presenting the facts. Today mainstream media is nothing more than another money-making machine and the news another way to turn a profit. So what better way to line shareholder’s pockets than by playing on public fears and sensationalizing stories.

A recent string of murders in Gauteng are making headlines on a near daily basis. The victims are described as ‘good’ people; upstanding community members who just wanted to reach out and save people in the clutches of Satanism. They were in all likelihood good people to their families and friends, and their deaths are indisputably tragic; there is no denying that.

However the grand error the media and SAPS are jointly making is in downplaying the truth of the matter in favor of imaginary scapegoats. Instead of chasing credible leads, we are left chasing blood smears on gutters and making questionable raids on apartments.

A threat revived

Satanists! The new boogeyman in a post-1994 South Africa. According to alleged ‘occult experts’ there are currently 80000 Satanists in South Africa; and these are not of the LaVeyan, Luciferanism or Theistic variety. No, the media and SAPS have been led to believe that there are tens of thousands of supposed ‘Satanists’ sacrificing women, children and babies every month while meditating to Judas Priest and blaspheming at every possible opportunity. What’s worse is they allow this belief to infect SAPS investigations and media reports.

This is how we end up with illogical media reports like Hunted by Satanists (You magazine, 11 October 2012). The You piece focuses on an interview with Overcomers through Christ leader, Ria Grunewald. It should be noted that up until this point the media has painted rosy pictures of inter-church ministry, Overcomers through Christ; but what is not being said is that it is a deliverance ministry.

Deliver us from evil

For those that don’t know, deliverance ministry focuses on the idea that a great many of today’s social ills are as a result of demonic possession. According to local website deliveranceministry.co.za, demons are the root cause of issues such as: obesity, homosexuality, depression, cancer, Bi-polar disorder, Autism, schizophrenia, financial woes, speech impediments, addictions and the list goes on.

Believers in deliverance are of the mindset that demons can be dropped into cups of tea to be unwittingly ingested, or they (demons) can infect pieces of jewellery and become attached to a host; among many other ridiculous notions. Even clinically diagnosed psychological disorders are considered to be the work of demons residing in a human host!

The cure to all these ills, as they believe, is to ‘cast the demon/s out’. This is allegedly done through intense prayer and quoting the Christian Bible, but the reality is that sometimes physical violent shaking, slapping, and shoving is involved along with multiple people shouting prayers and Bible quotes at the alleged ‘host’.

When the media reports that Overcomers through Christ members only sought to help individuals trapped in the clutches of Satan, they conveniently omit the way in which that ‘help’ is meted out. Equally forgotten is any such definition of what this ‘Satanism’ is.

The latter is especially dangerous when considering the following list based on information from ‘occult expert’ and believer in deliverance ministry, Kobus Jonker:

  • “Intense interest in heavy metal music.
  • Severe mood swings, a drop in school marks, intense introspection, depression, sleep disturbances, frequent nightmares, paranoia or excessive fear/anxiety.
  • Inappropriate sexual tendencies or fantasies.
  • A sudden or rapid change in attitudes towards authorities. A rebellious, sullen spirit towards parents.
  • Secretive and withdrawn. Some places of the child’s room are locked and out of reach of parents, brothers and sisters.
  • Lack of empathy towards others the hurt of others, be it people or animals in distress.
  • Suicidal tendencies and self-destructive behavior.
  • Drastic personality changes. (From a perfectionist to a room where you can find the wardrobe on the floor.)
  • Use of illegal drugs of any kind; alcohol abuse
  • Evidence of cruelty to animals.
  • A philosophy or attitude that shows a reversal of norm, eg bad is good and good is bad.
  • Self mutilation, including cutting oneself or marking with tattoos.
  • Obsessive preoccupation with death and gruesome and bizarre methods of dying.
  • Animosity towards Christianity, the church and Jesus Christ. Resistance and hate towards God and religious leaders.
  • Unusual body movements, such as twitching, tics, rocking, glazed eyes, head banging, moaning or groaning and chanting.
  • Different sexually transmitted diseases.”

Sourced from ‘Breaking the Circle’ featured in Servamus’ ‘Drugs & Occult-Related Crime’

This is not a list of symptoms of psychological disorders, or typical teenage behavior, or medical conditions: according to Kobus Jonker and those who allege to be ‘occult experts’, the above are signs of Satanic involvement. In short, if Satanism were a disease, these are the symptoms that would lead you to its diagnosis.

From this it is easy to see who could be labeled as a ‘Satanist’ by Overcomers through Christ (OTC)– the average teenager, sufferers of neurological disorders, and people with mental disorders.

Hunted by Delusions

If information on these OTC killings is gleaned from the various media reports we can construct a timeline of events:

July 2012: Shortly before her murder, Natacha Burger (an OTC member) finds a smear of blood on a gutter on her property. She photographs it with her cellphone and shares it with fellow OTC members; one of whom suggests it is linked to Satanism.

26 July 2012: Centurion. Natacha Burger (33) and her neighbour, Joy Boonzaaier (68), are murdered in Joy’s home. Both women had their throats slit and suffered numerous blows to the head.

August 2012: Several OTC members claim to have received threatening sms’, one of which read: “She [Natacha] screamed like a pig…”

13 August 2012: Honeydew. Reginald Bendixen (75) is murdered. His throat is slit and his upper lip cut off. Reginald was a ‘spiritual mentor’ to OTC leader, Ria Grunewald.

Late August 2012: Ria Grunewald (OTC Leader) finds a package on her doorstep with a note, “Now you can have your own little piece of Regi…” The contents of the package are believed to be brain tissue.

4 October 2012: Ruimsig. Michaela Valentine (25) is murdered in her home. She is stabbed to death and a cellphone is missing.

There are similarities between the murders of Natacha, Joy and Reginald in that they each had their throats slit. However, only one of those- Natacha- was an OTC member. Joy was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time and Reginald was, according to Ria, her ‘spiritual mentor’ and was not an actual member of OTC.

As for Michaela’s murder; an article on the Times Live website, Satanists killing us off (12 October 2012), claims that her only connection is that she attended an OTC course three years ago. Her murder is more likely to be coincidence as she was not an OTC member, and was not killed in the same way as the other three victims.

What is most important to note when it comes to the alleged Satanism link is the source for that deduction- fellow OTC members. They are the ones who told police about the mark on the gutter; and they were the ones who suggested the link to ‘Satanism’.

In early media coverage it was reported that a special investigator with experience in such matters was examining the mark. It is safe to say that one can speculate that the ‘special investigator’ is most likely an ORCU member trained under Kobus Jonker, and therefore indoctrinated into believing Satanic Panic propaganda.

The SAPS prejudice and ineptitude when it comes to Satanism is further evidenced in Hunted by Satanists: “The police have raided three flats in Krugersdorp and , among other things, seized the contents of a plastic crate believed to be used in Satanic rituals. The contents of the crate included an impala’s head and horns, ornaments in the shape of a wolf, a dragon and an angel, and a piece of clothing described as a ceremonial robe.”

None of the above items, aside from what is claimed to be a ceremonial robe, are mandated tools required for religious Satanic practices. An impala’s head and horns could possibly be used on an altar, but not just by a practicing Satanist, but Pagans too. And while the above mentioned ornaments may have some spiritual significance for a person, they are not clear-cut indications of Satanic practices. However, the most important point is that Satanism is a religion protected under the South African Constitution.

In media coverage of Reginald’s murder no mention is ever made of any trauma to the skull or harvesting of brain tissue, only that his upper lip was severed and removed, and his throat slit. How then is it possible that his brain tissue ended up on OTC leader, Ria’s, doorstep?

It is also quoted in Hunted by Satanists that a ‘source close to the investigation’ claims that a slit throat and missing severed upper lip are clear indicators that the murder is possibly linked to Satanism. What is not said in any of the media coverage is that killing is in direct violation of Satanic ethics and principles- within the modern religious practices of Satanism you will not find ritual killing. One is also left to wonder just who this ‘source’ is as they are clearly inexperienced when it comes to minority religions.

The lost art of logic

What the SAPS and media are failing to see is that the only link in these cases is that two of the victims were known to Ria Grunewald, and only one of them was an active member of OTC (Natacha). Another grossly overlooked aspect is that these members of the OTC possibly believe psychological disorders are ‘signs’ of someone being involved in Satanism, and that their definition of Satanism is seriously skewed.

If the SAPS were using logic and proper investigative processes they would be looking at individuals who experienced ‘deliverance’, especially from Ria Grunewald. They could narrow that list of suspects down even further by honing in on deliverance victims with a history of mental illness symptoms. But alas, as long as the likes of Kobus Jonker hold the public sway with nonsensical tales of pentagrams and baby-fat candles, the media and SAPS will chase phantoms while the real culprits walk free.

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