Originally published in Times Live
Three members of Overcomers Through Christ have been stabbed to death since July.
The latest killing was on Thursday when Michaela Valentine, 25, was found stabbed to death in her home in Ruimsig, western Johannesburg. Only her cellphone was missing.
On August 13, Pastor Reg Bendixen – the group’s “mentor” – was found in the garden of his Honeydew home with his throat slit.
On July 26, group member Natacha Burger, 31, and her neighbour, Joyce Boonzaier, 68, were found slain in Boonzaier’s Centurion home, near Pretoria.
The group claims parts of Bendixen’s brain were removed, and sent, in a brown cardboard box, to Ria Grunewald, the current leader of the group.
Burger apparently worked with former Satanists and was killed shortly after she received a note in which she was told to go to Boonzaier’s home. Boonzaier was not a member of the association.
Grunewald, who ran Overcomers Through Christ’s teaching ministry said: “All of those killed were dear friends whom we met regularly.
“Michaela attended our training three years ago, Natacha – who presented my courses – joined us through a training session. She was devout, with a passion for helping people. She prayed for hours for the salvation of people in the entertainment world and those in the Satanic church.”
Grunewald refused to divulge any information about their teachings, except to say: “We are a teaching ministry bringing God’s love and light into people’s lives.
“Pastor Reg Bendixen was our mentor. He had infinite knowledge of God, which he shared with us,” she said.
Grunewald said she had halted the training to stop the killings.
“I just cannot carry on. The others who do their training have also stopped. We are very worried. We do not know why this is happening or who would do something like this. This is a major loss. We pray to God that these killers are caught before they go further.”
Burger’s father, Tinie, described his daughter – a compliance analyst at First Rand – as “perfectly normal”.
“She loved life and was in love with God. She devoted her life to the Lord and was committed to helping people,” he said.
He said Burger discovered Jesus – to whom she believed she was married – after attending a religious camp in 2005.
“After that there was no one else for her. She wanted others to experience the same happiness and love of God that she had,” he said.
Burger said his daughter joined Overcomers Through Christ in 2010.
“These people are not a church or a strange movement. They are perfectly good. They spread God’s love through training. They pray for people – all sorts of people who are in trouble,” he said.
He said days before his daughter was killed she had been fighting possession by spirits.
“She was under spiritual attack. Natacha was haunted from the work that she did. She was fighting the devil’s attempts to get hold of her, but all the devil did was drive her further to God,” he said.
“That week there were [attacks] on her. She found a blood trail on her gutter. But those targeting her could not reach her because her house was surrounded by angels.
“I am convinced she was praying when she died. She was not afraid. She was surrounded in God’s love. He was with her then and is with her now.”
Police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said no arrests have been made.
“The police will be able to link the cases only once arrests have been made. The cases are being coordinated by the provincial police office,” he said.