Ni­co­lette Lot­ter’s prison wed­ding

Ni­co­lette Lot­ter, who’s in jail for stab­bing and killing her mom, was pretty as a pic­ture when she mar­ried the man who loves her ‘for the per­son she is’

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY VI­VIAN ATTWOOD & JANA VAN DER MERWE

THE long train of her lacy white gown whis­pers as she walks slowly to­wards the al­tar, a crown of flow­ers perched on her closely cropped blonde hair. Beam­ing at her hus­band-to-be, the slim young woman looks like any happy bride on the cusp of say­ing “I do”.

But Ni­co­lette Lot­ter is no or­di­nary bride. She’s been locked up in Durban’s Westville Prison for a decade af­ter she and her brother mur­dered her par­ents, Johnny and Riekie.

The now 36-year-old and her younger brother, Har­dus (30), stabbed and stran­gled them in their Westville home in 2008.

But Rian Nortjé (33), who works in the se­cu­rity in­dus­try on Gaut­eng’s East Rand, loves her. And to­day he’s mar­ry­ing her.

Rian, Ni­co­lette’s close friends and the prison au­thor­i­ties have dec­o­rated the sparse chapel and done their best to make it look cheery and as close to what she wants as pos­si­ble – there are vases of pretty pink pro­teas dot­ted around the room and the dank, yel­low­ing walls are cov­ered in white and pur­ple drap­ery.

As Ni­co­lette walks the few me­tres from the prison of­fice to the small chapel, other in­mates look­ing down from the storeys above start cheer­ing and ul­u­lat­ing.

It’s a small cer­e­mony – only a few peo­ple watch as Rian and Ni­co­lette say their vows.

While Rian’s mother, Anne, sup­ports his re­la­tion­ship with Ni­co­lette, she’s re­cov­er­ing from knee surgery and can’t at­tend the cer­e­mony.

Ni­co­lette’s sib­lings aren’t there ei­ther. Har­dus has been re­leased on pa­role un­der strict con­di­tions of house ar­rest, but re­fuses to at­tend his sis­ter’s wed­ding.

Their sis­ter, Chris­telle (32), isn’t here ei­ther, but that’s hardly sur­pris­ing – she hasn’t spo­ken to Har­dus and Ni­co­lette since the mur­ders.

De­spite the cir­cum­stances, the wed­ding is a dream come true, Rian tells YOU af­ter the cer­e­mony.

“The tears flowed when she walked in. It was fan­tas­tic,” he says.

“I had goose­bumps all over when we left the chapel and the en­tire prison started singing.

“I still have goose­bumps.”

THE grisly mur­ders of Jo­hannes Petrus “Johnny” (53) and Maria Mag­dalena “Riekie” Lot­ter (52) at the hands of their chil­dren gripped the coun­try 10 years ago. Ni­co­lette stabbed and killed their mother, while Har­dus stran­gled their dad with an elec­tric cord while he slept.

The sib­lings had been brain­washed by Ni­co­lette’s fi­ancé at the time, Mathew Naidoo (then 21), who’d dubbed him­self “the third son of God”.

Dur­ing the trial, KwaZulu-Natal high court Judge Shyam Gyanda la­belled Mathew the mas­ter­mind be­hind the killings and he was given two life sen­tences.

Ni­co­lette was sen­tenced to an ef­fec­tive

12 years in jail. Har­dus got 10.

But Rian doesn’t see his new wife as a killer. In fact, he didn’t know much about the in­fa­mous mur­ders un­til he watched the TV se­ries Huisgenoot: Ware Lewens­dra­mas (Huisgenoot: True Life Dra­mas) on DStv’s Via last year.

Rian had been so touched by the sib­lings’ story that he’d wanted to reach out and of­fer his sup­port. In Oc­to­ber last year he con­tacted Ni­co­lette through a fam­ily friend.

Slowly, their weekly phone calls blos­somed into ro­mance. He met Ni­co­lette face to face for the first time in July this year and asked her to be his wife not long af­ter.

“It was as if God wanted me to watch that show,” he said af­ter their en­gage­ment. “I don’t have to ask about the facts of the case. I’ll never con­demn her. I love her for the per­son she is.”

NI­CO­LETTE and Rian’s wed­ding is the first in decades in the fe­male sec­tion of Westville Prison. Rian made an of­fi­cial ap­pli­ca­tion through Ni­co­lette’s so­cial worker five weeks be­fore­hand and, af­ter reams of pa­per­work, the depart­ment gave its per­mis­sion.

Vi­vian Attwood, a friend of Ni­co­lette, walks her down the aisle. The bride’s pretty white dress is on loan from for­mer prison em­ployee and close friend Rita Stander. It was Rita’s daugh­ter’s wed­ding dress.

A fel­low pris­oner has given Ni­co­lette a mani and pedi and her hair has been cut and styled for the oc­ca­sion.

Sil­ver bracelets adorn her wrists and small crys­tal ear­rings sparkle in her ears – a gift from Vi­vian.

Rian is dap­per in a black suit and pur­ple tie – Ni­co­lette’s favourite colour. He’s flanked by his grooms­men, close friend Mau­ritz Swanepoel and an­other who asked not to be named.

Ge­orgina van der Merwe, who taught Ni­co­lette and her sib­lings at Port Natal pri­mary school in Durban, says the wed­ding is a sec­ond chance for Ni­co­lette.

“Ni­co­lette knows what she’s do­ing. From the mo­ment she walked into the tiny chapel, it was just one great ex­pe­ri­ence. In their vows Rian told her he’d sup­port her and al­ways be there for her. She told him she loved him and would al­ways be there for him too.”

Af­ter pro­nounc­ing them hus­band and wife, Rev­erend Al­wyn Small of the Dutch Re­formed Church in Bal­lito gives the groom his bless­ing to kiss the bride. It’s their first kiss, and cheers erupt from the pris­on­ers peer­ing through the win­dows as the new­ly­weds’ lips meet.

Then it’s time to cut the cake – a two-tier car­rot and pineap­ple con­fec­tion topped with cream cheese ic­ing, baked by Rian and his mom.

Af­ter the for­mal­i­ties, there’s a pho­to­shoot on the prison lawn, fol­lowed by a small re­cep­tion back in the chapel.

Guests are served a se­lec­tion of nib­bles Ni­co­lette asked Rian to have there: small milk tarts, pork sausages with mus­tard, pick­led onions and bite-size piz­zas and chicken burg­ers. These were brought by Ge­orgina, Rian and fam­ily friend Mol­lie Kemp.

But it isn’t long be­fore Ni­co­lette has to re­turn her bor­rowed wed­ding gown, change into her blue prison uni­form and go back to her cell. Re­al­ity has set in again. Be­fore leav­ing to cel­e­brate the union at a restau­rant with his friends, Rian holds Ni­co­lette for a long time. “It was both the hap­pi­est and the sad­dest day of my life,” he says. “I long for the day Ni­co­lette and I can start our life to­gether.”

They want to have kids, he adds. “We want to do all the sim­ple, or­di­nary things other cou­ples take for granted.”

Ni­co­lette will be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role in 2020.

Ni­co­lette, who’s still serv­ing a prison sen­tence for the 2008 mur­der of her par­ents, with her groom, Rian Nortjé. RIGHT: The cou­ple’s ster­ling sil­ver wed­ding bands.

LEFT: The bride is walked down the aisle by friend Vi­vian Attwood. BE­LOW: The cou­ple with their grooms­men and min­is­ter Al­wyn Small of the Dutch Re­formed Church. RIGHT: Ni­co­lette and Rian cut the two-tier cake he and his mom baked for the oc­ca­sion.

LEFT and FAR LEFT: YOU has re­ported on Ni­co­lette and her younger brother, Har­dus, of­ten over the years. The judge in their court case found that they’d been brain­washed by Mathew Naidoo, Ni­co­lette’s fi­ancé at the time, to com­mit the grue­some mur­ders. In court as well as later in a let­ter to YOU, Ni­co­lette ex­pressed her re­gret and how she hopes her fam­ily will one day be able to for­give her.

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