Satanic Panic – sources and resources


How do we even begin to debunk the years of accumulated nonsense and propaganda against Satanism, Occultism and Witchcraft in South Africa? The fact remains, all the information is already out there and available to anyone with a desire to seek it out and determine the truth for themselves. The phenomenon of Satanic Panic has been thoroughly examined and largely debunked in diverse academic fields including Anthropology, History, Sociology and Folklore. The FBI investigated claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse and the conclusion was made that the evidence was lacking. There was no evidence found of wide-spread satanic conspiracy or vast organized satanic cults perpetuating crimes or ritual abuse.

With all this information available and plenty of it in an online format, in addition to published sources, one has to wonder why our SAPS chooses to rely on religious propaganda for their information on Satanism, Occultism, Witchcraft, Paganism and other belief systems and practices. Why do they choose the special edition of Servamus dealing with drugs and the occult and its religious bias when there are legitimate sources out there? Legitimate sources only serve to debunk their “special edition” of Servamus and the influences of Jonker, Havinga, De Beer, Lotter anyway.

Even the recent cases held up as “evidence” for the existence of Satanism and Occult crime were constructed in the media and through the influence of the above-mentioned biased individuals coming from a fundamentalist Christian perspective.

I have compiled a few online sources which I have found invaluable in taking apart the Christian Satanism myth. I have also compiled as many of the media sources leading up to the current situation as I could find.


The 1992 Report by the FBI

The 1992 “Lanning Report” or the “Investigator’s Guide to Allegations of Ritual Child Abuse”. Special agent Kenneth Lanning of the Behavioural Sciences Unit compiled this document after he had been examining cases of Satanic Ritual Abuse since the early 1980’s. The report largely deals with child abuse and especially with Satanic Ritual Abuse. However, it also goes a long way in debunking the rampant satanic panic hysteria of the 1980’s. Lanning claims that at first he was willing to believe the various claims of ritual abuse and that he later became sceptical as he found that evidence was lacking.

Lanning explores various reasons for why “survivors” would potentially lie or misconstrue their experiences. The report downplays the “satanic” or “occult” connection to crimes or to ritual abuse. Lanning seems critical of the usage of “occult”and “satanic” labels applied to crimes. He raises the question of why we do not label other crimes based simply on the religious beliefs of its perpetrators. He also indicates that so-called “occult” or “satanic” connections may be arbitrary. One part of the document deals with advice for law enforcement – Lanning firstly advices that law enforcement officers should minimize the satanic/occult aspect. He warns against seeing Satanism everywhere and making connections where there is none. “Often the eye sees what the mind perceives,” (Lanning, 1992). Lanning advises that Police officers should also keep their own religious convictions separated from the investigation. He advises that those who believe they are entering into battle with the forces of evil should rather not get involved in such investigations.

I can see how our own SAPS ignored such common sense in the past with the occult crimes unit under Kobus Jonker. The Lanning report is a complicated document and I can only touch upon it briefly. The document contributed to a growing scepticism concerning SRA and today few academics or researchers take Satanic Ritual Abuse too seriously. The phenomenon can either be seen as akin to a “moral panic” or as containing folkloric elements similar to the blood libel.

You can read the whole document at the Religious Tolerance website (conveniently divided into smaller segments).

You can also read it at the Internet Sacred Texts Archive


Investigating the claims of Kobus Jonker and the “occult unit”

Kerr Cuhulain (Charles Ennis) was a police officer and is a Wiccan and author. He takes on Kobus Jonker and his investigations.

The same rational reasoning can be applied to Jonker’s other claims and cases.

The following is a challenge to Jonker’s input in the infamous “Thames Torso Case”.

The following article is from the Police Forum, the official police section newsletter from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. 1992. The author is Professor Phillip Jenkins. The article takes a critical look at so-called “occult units” and the very need for such units. Jenkins finds such units to be a waste of time and resources.

This article is titled “Occult Cop” and it contains another account of a police officer, Randy Emon, who became sceptical of the whole “satanic/occult” crime label and its “survivors”. He compares the phenomena of “occult survivors” to UFO abductees. He found that the whole phenomena served a purpose within fundamentalist Christianity.


General Sources


Shy David’s Satanic Hysteria Page is an excellent resource and it contains quite a few articles from various sources critical of the Satanic Panic. Quite a few of the articles date from the time of the panic itself. It also contains a few articles dealing with some of the personalities involved in the satanic panic.

The Satanic Media watch and news exchange is another excellent resource. It has numerous links debunking the satanic panic and the perpetrators behind the panic. It has numerous sources from academics dealing with the meaning of the modern satanic panic as part of myth and folklore.

Diane Vera’s Theistic Satanism Page logically takes apart the phenomenon of Satanic Panic and offers very useful advice on how to deal with it. This is an important page because it comes from a practicing Satanist with an insider’s perspective. It asks all of us including Witches, Pagans, Satanists, Occultists to be on our guard and work together to debunk the satanic myth, rather than simply distancing ourselves from the issue. Basically, we should all debunk the particularly Christian myth of Satanism (and not confirm it while simply pointing the finger at others) as the influence of satanic panic trickles down to other minority religions. The average Christian fundamentalist makes no distinction between practitioners of African Diaspora religions, Wiccans and Satanists and discrimination happens accordingly.

Diane Vera speaks up for the law-abiding Satanist not directly associated with the Church of Satan, while the Church of Satan simply tries to distance themselves from such groups and individuals.

Debunking Satanism Scares:

On a satanic criminal fringe and tabloid prophecy fulfillers:

Giving the Devil more than his due by David Alexander, this article was published in the bi-monthly magazine of the American Humanist Association, The Humanist March/April 1990. I include it as a general resource because it gives a nice overview of the Christian Satanism myth and the personalities involved in perpetrating the myth.


Sources from within Satanism

The following letters by South African Satanists appeared in Beeld and in Volksblad during the time of the media storm surrounding the Van Eck murder. They defend their position and their right to exist. Why should a hated criminal fringe usually with a strong background in Christianity serve to stigmatize all Occultists or Satanists? We certainly don’t afford Christians that some honour. The hated fringe usually takes their ideas of Satanism and Occultism from the Christian view of it.

We don’t label crimes as Christian crimes. A mother may murder her child and believe that God wanted her to do it and yet we will be quick to realize that she did not act on behalf of all Christians or display behaviour common to all Christians. Most serious Satanists and most Occultists remain law-abiding citizens. Yet, in our case any crime that could even remotely be linked to “Satanism” or “Occultism” can be used to stigmatize us all.


To learn more about Satanism, the best place to start is with the Satanic Bible. It soon becomes apparent that actual Satanism has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christian mythical version of it. The Satanic Bible condemns and speaks out against the very crimes that Christians attribute to Satanists.

Here is advice for the youth from the Church of Satan. Note the ideal of respecting children and animals as a pure form of life.

Diane Vera’s Theistic Satanism main page


Sources from within the wider community of Occultists, Pagans and Witches

Rowan Moonstone: Why I don’t believe the “Survivors” of Occult Groups

‘Christian Action’ and the Halloween conspiracy by Damon Leff

South Africa’s Satanic Panic by Francisco Fumarola


Why we SHOULD speak out against an SAPS occult-related crimes division in South-Africa by Franicsco Fumarola.

SAPRA Objections to Investigation of Alleged “harmful occult related crimes”.

Exposing the Lies – Inside Servamus’ ‘Drugs & Occult-related crime’ Part 1 by Bronwyn Katzke

Evangelical Fundamentalism threatens religious freedom by Helen Riding

Also published:

Ignoring the Elephant by Bronwyn Katzke

From a blog by Bronwyn Katzke with numerous articles touching on the phenomenon of satanic panic

From Christina Engela’s Blog


Key published sources and academic Sources

Bromley, D. G. 1991. The satanic cult scare. Society. May/June.

California Office of Criminal Justice Planning. 1989. Occult crime: A law enforcement primer. Sacramento, California.

Carlson, S., & LaRue, G. 1989. Satanism in America. Buffalo, NY: Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion. Gala Press, El Cerrito, CA.

Bill Ellis is an English Professor and Folklorist. In Raising the Devil he examines the Satanic Panic as part of folklore. He identifies young juveniles who participate in satanic vandalism and other crimes as “legend trippers”. They fulfil the urban legends found within the Christian mythical version of Satanism. Other works by Bill Ellis should be consulted as well.

Ellis, B. 2000. Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions and the Media. Lexington. University of Kentucky Press.

Ellis, B. 1989. Death by folklore: Ostension, contemporary legend, and murder. Western Folklore, 48, 201-220.

Hicks, R. 1991. In Pursuit of Satan: The Police and the Occult. Buffalo, NY. Prometheus Press.

Lewis, J.R. 2001. Who serves Satan? A Demographic and Ideological Profile. Marburg Journal of Religion. Volume 6. Number 2.


Satan’s Silence further helped dispel the idea of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Nathan, D. & Snedeker, M.R. 1995. Satan’s Silence: ritual abuse and the making of a modern American witch hunt. New York. Basic Books.

Jeffrey  S.Victor is a Professor of Sociology and has numerous published articles and works dealing with the phenomenon of Satanic Panic.

Victor, J. S. 1989. A rumor-panic about a dangerous satanic cult in western New York. New York Folklore, 15(1-2), 23-49.

Victor, J. S. 1991. Satanic cult ‘survivor’ stories. Skeptical Inquirer, 15(3), 274-280.

Victor, J.S. 1993. Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend

Victor, J.S. 1998. Moral Panics and the social construction of deviant behaviour: a theory and application to the case of ritual child abuse. Sociological Perspectives v41, n3.


Review of Satanic Panic by Institute for Psychological Therapies. Hollida Wakefield.


A South African study and Master’s Thesis by Danielle Dunbar. The Devil’s Children:

Volk, Devils and Moral Panics in White South Africa, 1976 – 1993. University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.



The originators of the Satanic Panic

The Satanic Panic emerged from within Christianity and served a particularly Christian agenda. It started with the stories of so-called occult survivors who claimed to have been high-ranking satanic priests or priestesses or they claim to have been powerful and influential Witches (usually also meaning Satanist to them). Conveniently, these “occult survivors” always find Christ in the end and they have quite fantastical testimonials to share. Quite a few of them confess to witnessing and even participating in horrendous crimes like human sacrifice, mutilation, torture and infanticide and yet no arrests were ever made or bodies uncovered. Most of these sources turned out to be frauds, attention seekers and in a few cases there may have been real mental health issues.

These accounts can never fool the serious Occultist, Witch, Pagan or Satanist as the accounts told by “survivors” frequently do not match up with actual beliefs or practices. These “survivors” quickly reveal that they know nothing about contemporary religions or occult practices. Quite a few of them are still taken seriously by a few fundamentalist Christians and unfortunately a few of these works were taken seriously in law enforcement seminars during the height of the Satanic Panic.

Unfortunately, our SAPS while under the influence of former occult unit members and their religious agenda’s may still take these and similar accounts seriously.

I will only touch on a few of the personalities involved in the creation of the modern myth of “Satanism”. Additional resources can found in the above mentioned links.


Doreen Irvine

Irvine is the author of “From Witchcraft to Christ”. This was one of the very first books that sparked the satanic panic. Interestingly, it does not contain the concept of “Satanic Ritual Abuse” or even references to such a thing. The SRA scare emerged later. She makes the fatal mistake of confusing witchcraft and Satanism as the same thing. What true occultist would not be able to tell this most basic difference? There is absolutely no corroborating evidence for the fantastical events described by this “Witch-Queen”.


Lauren Stratford (one alias among others)

She was the author of Satan’s Underground and claimed to be a breeder for a satanic cult, giving up babies for sacrifice. She later emerged under a new name, Laura Grabowski, and claimed to be a holocaust survivor. Her story was completely debunked by Cornerstone Magazine, which used to be a Christian publication. She was exposed as a fraud for her holocaust story. Interestingly, Beeld and Volksblad used accounts from Satan’s Underground to link the Van Eck murder to Satanism. They tried to provide a source and motive for the face skinning aspect and ended up using a source with suspect credibility. It is tempting to speculate that Auksano had a hand in providing this misinformation (see media category below)


Michelle Smith and the start of Satanic Ritual Abuse

The book that started the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare was Michelle Remembers by Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder. 1980. She recalled lost memories while under hypnosis and horrific stories of satanic cults soon emerged. The hypnotic induction methods used to recover lost memories have since been discredited and are largely considered to be unreliable. It was Pazder who coined the term ritual abuse.

The original article debunking Michelle Remembers was in the Mail on Sunday. Michelle Remembers: The Debunking of a myth. 1990. It is reproduced here:

The following is an article by Kerr Cuhulain exposing the highly unlikely and even impossible accounts from Michelle Remembers.

Further scepticism regarding Satanic Ritual Abuse:

General overview:


Rebecca Brown and Elaine Moses (Pseudonyms)

These two women were thoroughly debunked by a Christian evangelical organization known as Personal Freedom Outreach.

The organization seeks to educate Christians about heretical doctrines and cults. Their article entitled “Drugs, Demons and Delusions” goes a long way in debunking the strange accounts of Rebecca Brown and Elaine Moses.

The books by Rebecca Brown include “He Came to Set the Captives Free”, “Prepare for War” and “How to Become a Vessel of Honour”. They contain a fanciful account of satanic conspiracy that includes the rock music industry and even the Catholic Church. The books describe horrific rituals witnessed by Elaine and they even contain an account where Satan comes in physical form to take Elaine as his bride. “Rebecca Brown” eventually had her medical license revoked for over-prescription of Demerol in patients. She believed that hospital staff was either possessed or involved in a “satanic conspiracy”.

Read the article here (pdf):

The Bizarre Case of Dr.Rebecca Brown


Mike Warnke

Warnke is the author of the Satan Seller who claimed to be a former Satanic High Priest. Investigations by Cornerstone Magazine revealed most of his claims to be fraudulent. His response included calling his critics Satanists.


The Media in support of a Satanic Panic and the Satanism myth


Michael Van Eck and the “Graveyard Murder”

It was Danie Krügel who first called the Van Eck case a satanic killing. It should be noted that Krügel has ties to Auksano and to former occult-unit member Johan De Beer. Krugel called the Van Eck case one of the “most gruesome satanic murders”. Soon the press started focussing on any small link to supposed Satanism – it turned out to be a colossal waste of time focussing on “Satanism”. What did their beliefs have to do with motive? Conveniently, the press ignored the history of mental illness and other problems.

Some wheat among the chaff – This article was written by Johannes De Villiers during the media storm surrounding the Van Eck case. It takes a look at a particularly South African history of Satanism, especially the Christian myth of Satanism.

An attempt to answer Johannes de Villiers’ question regarding, “Where are all the Satanists?” follows. Their answer is the usual sensationalistic propaganda. Note how Jonker claims that all the top-satanists are either dead or in jail – convenient. Where was anyone convicted in a court of law where the “satanic” aspect actually played a significant role in the case? Where did supposed Satanism or occultism actually have anything to do with motive? In most cases, and as will be seen below all cases that were labelled as satanic or as “occult” in the media or by police merely had arbitrary signs, which were interpreted as “Satanism”. What exactly does Jonker classify as “signs”of Satanism? Based on his track record, including calling a hexagram, a “witchgram” and revealing metal music posters and Dracula Sherbet as potentially “satanic”(seen in Servamus), why should we trust his interpretations or the opinions of those who trained under him? They are all still Christian fundamentalists. Plenty of the articles below also involved teenagers and the usual “legend tripping” aspects of “Satanism”. These perpetrators were the “tabloid prophecy fulfillers” who tried to frighten and shock through the use of satanic trappings. It should be remembered that Jonker and the former occult-unit members, now with their own anti-occult ministries actually believe in the Christian satanic myth. They expect an organized and vast conspiracy of evil with none other than the devil himself at its helm. They cling to a mythic worldview where we in a war between “good” and “evil”. Evil exists in a literal form and seeks to tempt the youth away from Christ and damn their very souls. The Satanists in the myth usually have actual supernatural powers of the Hollywood kind.

Yet, all these cases labelled as “satanic” were isolated incidents and not evidence of a wider network of evil. As mentioned before, the connections to Satanism seem arbitrary. We should call a crime with a Bible near the scene a “Christian crime” then.

The Satanic Panic surrounding the murder of Michael Van Eck begins….

Some old background about Danie Krügel.

Here are some old articles about Auksano. It confirms the ties between Danie Krügel and the organization. Also note the “threatening letter” supposedly written by a “Satanist”. It looks more like the work of a child or young teenager who can’t even spell.


Soon the case spiraled out of control in the media and we can see how it elevated into a case of “satanic panic”. We can see how elements within Christianity could use the myths that arose around this case to further their own agenda’s.

The devil is on the loose!

South Africa must be on its knees and turn back to the Christian God. Note how the case is labelled an “occult murder” and Van Eck suffered an “occult death”

The story surrounding the case becomes a “moral panic” with a specific purpose within a Christian context. The youth are turning their backs on God/Religion and should turn back or we will all suffer the consequences.

In comes Auksano with Barbara and Johan De Beer

The sensationalistic Beeld  and Volksblad is desperate to find the Satanism/occult connection. They refer to the account of Lauren Stratford. Yet, Lauren Stratford is one of the debunked “occult survivors” mentioned above.

Ambiguities about Chane’s actual beliefs arose. She denied any connection to Satanism. We should also ask just what exactly did Chane’s beliefs have to do with anything. Clearly, it had nothing to do with motive and should not have played such a big role in this case and the media. The Sunday Tribune even called Chané the “Welkom Witch” (cannot find original article).

Beeld and other sources changed their tune. Note how even Kobus Jonker testifies here that it is not Satanism. Of course he still has to make it clear that they may have experimented and dabbled.


Kirsty Theologo burnt in a “Satanic Ritual”

The second case of 2011 that received a sensationalistic headline, it further fuelled the idea that Satanism was apparently a real problem and threat. Yet again, these young men created their own rituals and yet again they were acting out and fulfilling the Christian mythical ideal of what Satanism should be as espoused by cult-cops and concerned pastors. This was another case of “legend tripping” and “tabloid prophecy fulfilment” even if an actual ritual formed part of their motive.

The following headline links the crime to a mythical battle between God and the devil


Kyle Mudaly’s Suicide

Note that the family denied any “satanic” involvement in the update. The star found near the body was said to be “Star of David”, meant for protection. Also note that rumours and a Blackberry Messenger broadcast claiming that Kyle had “supernatural powers” contributed to the “Satanist” label. I believe that this nonsense seems to detract from the real motives behind this incident. Dr. Dale Wallace provided a voice of reason in the one article stating that the satanic label may hide bullying, family or psychological problems.–Ritualistic-worship-linked-to-boy-s-suicide

After this particular case several more articles arose concerning a growth of Satanism in KwaZulu-Natal. Several symbols were found at the University of KwaZulu-Natal leading to speculations about Satanism. Yet, no evidence of actual crimes has emerged. These symbols and rumours are used to fuel a satanic panic. The real motive behind the symbols could have involved a practice significant to its creators or it could have simply have been a prank by students meant to frighten. Jumping to conclusions and forming sensationalistic links to other incidents is folly. The sensationalistic articles also confound belief systems and draw no distinction between them. Animal parts (mentioned in one article below) perhaps meant to be used in traditional African practices cannot be called “Witchcraft” cannot be called “Satanism”.

This is the infamous “witchgram” article. According to Jonker, the witchgram is used to mock Jews and Christians and Witches drink blood and traffic with demons around it.–demonic-L-block-


The case of the Lotter siblings

This case had everything from being raped by a Tokolosh to following advice from the “third son of God”. Initially, articles clearly stated that the Lotter siblings believed that they were doing God’s work as instructed by the “Third Son of God”. Later articles gave the crime the “Satanism” label, while the Lotters clearly came from a Christian context. In one article it is stated that the Lotter girl blamed Naidoo for using “witchcraft”. If this case is used as an example of Satanism, the Occult or Witchcraft out of control then it should also count against Christianity and belief in the Tokolosh.


The case of the mutilated rabbit in Kempton Park and Aserac

F.H. Havinga’s comment about this case sparked an outrage amongst Witches and Pagans. Soon Havinga and Aserac came with the usual nonsense that there was a rise in Witchcraft and Satanism in South-Africa and the public should be concerned.–witchcraft-is-suspected–on-the-increase–

A reaction from within the Pagan community – Witchcraft had nothing to do with the case of the mutilated rabbit by Damon Leff.

Lifeline steps in to defend themselves after the article about Occult and Satanic practices on the rise. They try to defend their position and their training by Aserac. Aserac’s website is still filled with biased information and outright misinformation along with Christian propaganda against other belief systems. The distinction made by the lay counsellor between “Satanism” as dark magic and Wicca or Paganism as “good” or “white” magic is still an oversimplification. Most real Satanists and most Witches, Pagans and Wiccans are still law-abiding citizens.


Morne Harmse, the “sword killer”.

Blame shifted to the band Slipknot and Satanism

Source of Jonker’s silly comments of what makes a Satanist – He dwells on the colours of the curtains and the candles.


The madness continues

Here are a few other cases that have led the country to believe that Satanism and Occultism is growing and that it somehow poses a threat to safety and national security. South African Satanic Panic is an ongoing phenomenon. While this is terrible, note how the only tie they can form to Satanism is the fact that this crime took place on the winter solstice. It is jumping to conclusions and fear-mongering.

Playing with an Ouija board is equal to Satanism and a girl frightening herself is equal to the occult being a danger to society?

These so-called “occult” or “satanic gangs”, if these rumours are true, are merely “legend trippers” and “tabloid prophecy fulfillers” who use “satanic trappings” to frighten and intimidate.

Note how Witchcraft is confounded with Satanism in the title of the article below. The only evidence is that juveniles made some graffiti. The rest about rape, orgies, 62,000 Satanists and 14 sacrifices a year is Jonker’s addition.

Note the misuse of “Witchcraft” linked to these crimes.

Example of Moral Panic in article below

What did the so-called “Satanism” identified by Kobus Jonker have to do with anything?

Typical legend tripping and tabloid prophecy fulfilment in following article

Some consequences to satanic panic

Terrible crime, but why do they link it to satanism? Is this the kind of time wasting and following possible red herrings an “occult unit” contributes to?

Attacks on Harry Potter. The second article refers to a spoof article from The Onion. It was distributed through email as serious and reveals how satanic panic is alive and well in popular culture and in South Africa. The rumour that Harry Potter led to a rise in Satanism was debunked by Snopes.

EC police establish occult task team


Additional Resources:

Beth Winegarner is a San Francisco journalist and author. This blog deals with controversial influences upon the youth and has plenty of interesting articles that touches upon the subject of satanic panic and occult influences.


In conclusion:

While it may seem that the above media reports indicate that there is indeed something like “occult” or “satanic” crime, it should be noted that in the span of about ten years these accounts actually form a miniscule amount of the actual news concerning violent crimes. A lot of the above mentioned cases involved mere rumours where no evidence of a crime ever existed and no evidence of crimes ever emerged despite the predictions of “increases in dangerous satanic cults or witchcraft”.

The various sources provided can provide some explanation as to what is really going on. Spreading Satanic Panic is a tool of fundamentalist Christianity meant to frighten and to demonize other religions. The Christian version of Satanism, witchcraft and occultism is part of folklore and mythology.

Most Occultists, Pagans, Witches and Satanists are law-abiding citizens and there is absolutely no evidence that any of these groups are to be associated with an increase in crime. Having an “occult unit” to imply that these are “special interest groups” because they may be more prone to crime is ludicrous.

The term “occult” should be restored to its lofty honours and the term should not fall into the hands of fundamentalist Christians who would seek to stigmatize all beliefs which could fall under an occult banner. When they label a crime an “occult crime” stigmatization does occur. There is an implication that occultism or Satanism is somehow a root cause of misbehaviour. Yet, when it comes to major religions like Christianity the actions of a few fringe elements is never enough to condemn the whole religion as inherently corrupt. Lanning (1992) states that he is reluctant and uncomfortable to admit that the vast majority of crimes is performed by participants in major religions, yet nothing is ever made about these links.

It should be remembered that far more people have been killed in the name of God than in the name of the devil or Satan.





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  1. Oct 2, 2012

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