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’
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.