Ma­nip­u­la­tor who re­joiced in his con­trol

Jo­han Kotzé pre­sented hope to Sarita Ven­ter, a lonely busi­ness­woman di­ag­nosed with can­cer

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE -

Jo­han Kotzé was dubbed the Modi­molle Mon­ster for or­ches­trat­ing the gang rape of his wife and mur­der­ing her son. He is in jail now serv­ing two life sen­tences, plus 25 years for kid­nap­ping her and tor­tur­ing her, but his exwife Ina Bon­nette wasn’t the only woman he ter­rorised. Find out more in this ex­tract from

by Karyn Maughan and Shawn Swingler. “WHEN I leave a woman, she ei­ther ends up in an in­sti­tu­tion or she kills her­self.”

Jo­han Kotzé had re­peated that line so of­ten that it had be­come his catch­phrase, a motto that he said with em­pha­sis and, as his friends would later ob­serve, deep pride. Some be­lieved that the boast was ex­ag­ger­ated or based on half-truths, a story told at the end of a drunken braai. But it was not.

Sarita Ven­ter was found dead in her bed­room, sur­rounded by pill bot­tles, in November 2010 – a month af­ter Kotzé mar­ried Ina Bon­nette. Ven­ter, a once suc­cess­ful busi­ness­woman, had dated Kotzé for sev­eral months, a re­la­tion­ship that left her fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally dev­as­tated. At the time of her death, Kotzé owed Ven­ter over R1 mil­lion.

She had met Kotzé on the Flirt SMS net­work in 2008. At the time, her health was very poor and she was des­per­ately lonely. Kotzé pre­sented him­self as a ro­man­tic hero, a man who would help her as she strug­gled through hos­pi­tal stays and de­pres­sion.

Ven­ter’s el­dest son, Jonker de Vos, would meet Kotzé at Ven­ter’s Free State guest­house only some­time later – in early 2009. “(Kotzé) came and vis­ited her be­cause he was a new boyfriend kind of thing,” De Vos says. “I don’t know ex­actly how they met, some chat line or some­thing.”

It was a whirl­wind ro­mance and Ven­ter fell for Kotzé in­stantly, be­liev­ing that he would change her life for the bet­ter. Ven­ter was won over when Kotzé ex­pressed his de­sire to look af­ter her four chil­dren.

Her life had been dif­fi­cult and de­fined by loss, chal­lenge and dis­ap­point­ment. Her first mar­riage was to De Vos’s bi­o­log­i­cal father, who was left blind and men­tally im­paired when a truck made an il­le­gal U-turn on the N1 just out­side of Bloem­fontein and ploughed into his car. Ven­ter di­vorced him soon af­ter the ac­ci­dent. De Vos ex­plains it this way: “The psy­chi­a­trists told her back in that time that this was the best way to do it for the chil­dren, be­cause my mom couldn’t look af­ter him and af­ter us. I mean three sons … and she was still preg­nant with the youngest one.

“She was preg­nant at the time of the ac­ci­dent, and al­ready had a son who was about a year and a half, and I was about three years old. This was 1989, so she was about 24 years old then.”

Ven­ter soon re­mar­ried and had an­other son, Hen­nie. Ac­cord­ing to De Vos, the union was born out of Ven­ter’s des­per­ate need to find a provider for her fam­ily. In 2005, she di­vorced her sec­ond hus­band af­ter years of abuse in­flicted on her and her chil­dren.

De­spite her dif­fi­cult per­sonal cir­cum­stances, Ven­ter was a suc­cess­ful, highly in­tel­li­gent and driven woman – even be­ing named a run­ner-up for the an­nual Bloem­fontein busi­ness­woman-ofthe-year com­pe­ti­tion. She ob­tained an hon­ours de­gree in labour law. But she lived for her chil­dren.

suc­cess­ful, highly in­tel­li­gent woman. She ob­tained an hon­ours de­gree in labour law. But she lived for her chil­dren

“Ba­si­cally ev­ery­thing she did, she did for us. She did ev­ery­thing she could do. She al­ways tried to up­lift you. She was the best mom I could have asked for. All three of my broth­ers would tell you ex­actly the same thing,” says De Vos.

When Ven­ter met Kotzé, her health had be­gun to de­te­ri­o­rate sig­nif­i­cantly. She was then di­ag­nosed with a can­cer­ous brain tu­mour. From the be­gin­ning of 2008, she re­quired oxy­gen con­stantly.

Hen­nie, Ven­ter’s youngest son, lived with her and ini­tially liked Kotzé. But he was dis­turbed by Kotzé’s in­sis­tence that his mother take off her oxy­gen mask – and Kotzé’s in­creas­ingly ob­vi­ous abil­ity to make her do things that were not good for her. “I could see that he just went for women that he could de­stroy,” he says.

But for Ven­ter, Kotzé rep­re­sented hope. She would tell her chil­dren that Kotzé was teach­ing her to be more pos­i­tive. Ac­cord­ing to De Vos, his mother “said she met this rich farmer and he’s go­ing to look af­ter her now, look af­ter her fi­nances, and he will sort all of her prob­lems out for her”.

“She be­came weak,” De Vos con­tin­ues. “She was ba­si­cally think­ing that she was dy­ing. She just wanted some­one to res­cue her. She was wor­ried about be­ing lonely. She was ob­sessed about not be­ing sin­gle. (It got to the point where) she couldn’t think for her­self af­ter that. He would crit­i­cise ev­ery­thing she did. Noth­ing she did was right ac­cord­ing to him, so she was long­ing for that.”

Ven­ter’s jour­nal en­tries pow­er­fully il­lus­trate her anx­i­ety over her wors­en­ing health – and her grow­ing ob­ses­sion with Kotzé:

“April 4, 2009: I think I’m not go­ing to make it. God I am to­tally in your hands. I am ready to go to Your home, if that is Your will do it Lord! … I WANT JO­HAN’S BLOOD!! “April 12, 2009: JO­HAN COM­ING! “April 13, 2009: Jo­han… ? “April 18, 2009: Home! Jo­han in Beth­le­hem.

“April 19, 2009: Saw Jo­han. So grate­ful that he is stand­ing by me. I know what I want from life… and I am pre­pared to wait… My in­her­i­tance is beau­ti­ful to me.”

“(Kotzé) got into her head com­pletely,” De Vos says, adding that he and his broth­ers were deeply con­cerned about Kotzé’s mo­tives for get­ting in­volved with their ail­ing mother.

“We wrote her a let­ter and ev­ery­thing,” De Vos con­tin­ues, “but she didn’t… she was ba­si­cally so trapped in his web that she couldn’t get out of it. I moved to Clarens by this time be­cause I was gatvol, fed up with all of this in the Free State.

“In the be­gin­ning he was very nice, but later on he was very dom­i­nant to­wards her, ba­si­cally telling her what to do and mak­ing fun of her.

“She was on oxy­gen and he would call her Snui­fie be­cause (she had an oxy­gen tube) in her nose. We were an­gry, we would swear at him the whole time, but she didn’t want to let go of him, so she chose him in­stead of us ba­si­cally. I f***ing hate that guy.”

De Vos says Kotzé be­came in­creas­ingly con­trol­ling of Ven­ter’s life. “She would go drink cof­fee with a friend and (Kotzé) would say, why are you do­ing this, why are you do­ing that. And he would prom­ise to visit her and wouldn’t.”

Ven­ter also en­trusted her fi­nances to Kotzé, cel­e­brat­ing her love and trust for him in her jour­nal:

“April 21, 2009: Braaied so nicely to­gether with Jo­han! *He can sing! Gave power of at­tor­ney to Jo­han on the Ven­ter Prop­erty Trust. I re­alise I have no choice and I trust him 100 per­cent. Very tense. It is for me a man of my heart, that he said that he wouldn’t mind to have four sons. I am so grate­ful that I know him…

“April 24, 2009: There is a time and place for ev­ery­thing, and a sea­son for ev­ery ac­tiv­ity un­der heaven. Gave sig­na­ture to Jo­han on Ven­ter Prop­erty Trust. I re­alise that I’m not in a state to han­dle my own fi­nances. Thank you to Jo­han.”

De Vos says his mother even gave her bank card to Kotzé. “We told her that he was try­ing to steal her money, but she just didn’t want to lis­ten. She was just caught in his trap. She was un­der his con­trol; he f***ing did any­thing with her. But be­fore that she was never like that. She was a strong busi­ness­woman. Men were scared of her ac­tu­ally; now ba­si­cally this guy comes and he just took her.”

Hen­nie said he ini­tially be­lieved that Kotzé was do­ing his best to man­age his mother’s fi­nances. “He’d tell her he was us­ing the money to buy more prop­erty, or sheep. But noth­ing came of it.

“He told her he was a farmer and he had two farms out­side Bloem­fontein and he had two farms in Aus­tralia. At that time, I be­lieved him be­cause he did have a beau­ti­ful farm out­side Bloem­fontein.”

Far from buy­ing prop­erty for Ven­ter, Kotzé was us­ing her money to pay the mu­nic­i­pal bills on his farm. Both De Vos and Hen­nie ad­mit that they don’t know the full ex­tent of what he took from their ail­ing mother.

Again and again Ven­ter would ex­press her grat­i­tude for Kotzé in her jour­nal. She be­lieved that his pres­ence in her life clearly showed that God was in con­trol of her pre­sent and fu­ture.

The cou­ple were never phys­i­cally in­ti­mate, but Ven­ter cel­e­brated even the tini­est demon­stra­tion of phys­i­cal af­fec­tion by him. She would later di­rectly ad­dress Kotzé in her jour­nal en­tries, beg­ging him to touch her. ● Love is War, The Modi­molle Mon­ster is pub­lished by Ja­cana Me­dia at a rec­om­mended re­tail price of R195. It is also avail­able in Afrikaans.

● For more see Week­end Argus to­mor­row.

PIC­TURE: GRAEME HOSKEN

ON TRIAL: Jo­han Kotzé dur­ing an ap­pear­ance in a Modi­molle court. In the re­cently re­leased book Love is War, The Modi­molle Mon­ster, the au­thors show the ma­nip­u­la­tive side of the man with his pre­vi­ous li­ai­son.

NOVEMBER 9, 2013

AT­TACKED: Ina Bon­nette was just one of the women Jo­han Kotzé ter­rorised.

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