Satanism Creeps In Among South African Teens

A February double murder in the South African city of Soweto illustrates a quiet rise in demon worship among teenagers, influenced in part by American pop culture icons.

In Soweto
In Soweto
Valérie Hirsch

SOWETO In a Soweto stadium, men and women wearing vicar collars are praying to drive away the devil. They conclude with a religious hymn, chanted by a few hundred teenagers who have come to attend the funeral of 15-year-old Thandeka Moganetsi and 16-year-old Chwayita Rathazwayo, friends who were stabbed to death Feb. 18 by two classmates who practice Satanism.

Thiko and Tumelo were arrested the following day and are detained in a youth center in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg. Thiko, nicknamed “Big Boy,” received a Bible and some candy from visiting family members. The two boys recount without emotion the chain of events of that fatal afternoon. “At school, we were the leaders of Satanism,” Thiko says. “Thandeka and Chwayita wanted to be initiated to become celebrities like Beyoncé.”

After school, the four teenagers met up. “We placed red and black candles in a triangle on the ground, and the girls cut themselves on the arm,” Thiko continues. “With their blood, they were to sign a pact with Satan. But Chwayita got scared and refused. So we became angry. After that, we don’t remember. We were possessed by the devil. When we came back to our senses, there was blood everywhere. We were overcome by panic. We burned our T-shirts and went back home. I felt like a demon.”

The boys left a candle and blades on site. Big Boy buried Chwayita’s skirt behind his house, and police found a satanic bible under his mattress.

South Africa is second only to the United States for harboring practitioners of Satanism. “They have in common a high level of violence, very powerful fundamentalist Christian churches, huge social inequalities and a society that sanctifies material,” explains Nicky Falkof, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“Satanism first started spreading in the 1980s among Afrikaners, who were anxious about the end of the apartheid. In the past few years, it has begun flourishing again, but now it is no longer limited to white South Africans,” she says.

Why worship the devil?

Though there is no organized church, Satanism is combined with occult African beliefs in townships, Falkof explains, and it is largely a teenage practice, “often a resistance strategy to face an unhappy situation,” she says.

Videos by Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Kesha have popularized symbols sometimes associated with the Illuminati, a supposedly secret organization said to seek world domination, according to vague theories by American evangelists. Gestures, jewelry and tattoos reproducing occult symbols, triangles, eyes, red and black colors associated with the devil — all of these are popular among South African teenagers


Thandeka, one of the victims, was wearing one. According to police inspector Hennie de Jager, who has registered 48 satanic cases over three months in Johannesburg and Pretoria, “People are making young girls and boys believe that they will become rich and famous.”

Sordid cases regularly make newspaper headlines. There was, for example, the case of 18-year-old Kirsty Theologo, who was burned alive in 2011 by six of her friends in southern Johannesburg. And last year in Soweto, a teenager killed four members of his famiy.

Tumelo discovered “Seth” (Satan) during a concert. “I was told he gave powers, and I did research on the Internet,” he says. With his almond-shaped eyes and smiling face, he looks not like a killer, but instead like an angel. “I wanted to get revenge on my father, who beats us when he gets back from the mine. I was hoping the devil would push him to drink until he dies of it.”

The boy shows a black mark on his palm, similar to a Christian Stigmata. “Every time I did something good, it started itching,” he says. Tumelo initiated Big Boy. “We smoked weed, we read the satanic bible and drank blood,” Big Boy says with a sometimes tragic, sometimes frightening look. “We sacrificed rats and a chicken. The spirit spoke to us in a deep voice. It even ordered us to kill our parents, but we refused.”

Since his father died of AIDS in 2008, Big Boy has been depressed. “He was taciturn and had fits of anger,” his mother explains. Also ill and appallingly thin, she claims she knew nothing about her son’s misconduct.

“We wanted to build a kingdom and get rich, but we went too far,” Big Boy says. “The vicar told me to pray to God when I feel depressed. I would now like to become an altar boy to be able to identify the good spirits.”

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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