Nic Diederichs Technical High School slashing

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Nic Diederichs Technical High School Tragedy
Location Krugersdorp, South Africa
Date 17 August 2008
Approx. 7:20 a.m.[1] (SAST)
Target Pupils and employees at Nic Diederichs Technical High School
Attack type
Slashing, spree stabbing
Weapons 60-cm samurai sword[2]
Deaths 1
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Morné Harmse

The Nic Diederichs Technical High School Tragedy was an incident on 17 August 2008 at the Nic Diederichs Technical High School in Krugersdorp, South Africa, in which 18-year-old matric (Grade 12) student Morné Harmse attacked four people with a samurai sword.[3] Sixteen-year-old grade 9 pupil Jacques Pretorius was killed,[4] and two campus gardeners and a second pupil were seriously injured. Harmse later pleaded guilty to a charge of murder and three charges of attempted murder and was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.

Harmse was reported to have "followed" the practice of Satanism.[2][4][5] The attack also lead to blame and criticism of the American heavy metal band Slipknot,[6] as Harmse had acquired a mask that resembled one of a Slipknot band member's, had donned a dress similar to the band's drummer, Joey Jordison,[7] during the morning of the attack, and had been listening to the band for months prior to the attack.

The attack[edit]

At about 7:00 a.m. (SAST), Harmse arrived at school in his school uniform, wearing a brown mask and with black paint on his face.[5] The mask was reported to be an imitation of the one Slipknot lead vocalist Corey Taylor wears,[7] which Harmse had referred to as the "maggot mask" but the media claimed that it resembled Joey Jordison's own mask and not Taylor's. Two other masks were found in Harmse's bag; one clown mask from a Hollywood costume store similar to Shawn Crahan's, and the other, a handmade papier-mâché with holes drilled in and painted with tribal marks.[7] Three samurai swords were also found in his bag, which included a Sekizo Ninja sword and a small Katana.

1. Jacques Pretorius, pupil, killed by slash to the neck
2. Stefan Bouwer, pupil, injured by slash to the head
3. Joseph Kodiseng, groundskeeper, critically injured
4. Simon Manamela, groundskeeper, critically injured

At about 7:20 a.m.,[1] during an assembly for a congregation, Harmse took out his 60-cm samurai sword, and slashed 16-year-old pupil Jacques Pretorius' neck, causing him to die immediately. Harmse then walked down a passage and slashed 17-year-old Stefan Bouwer on the head,[8] and was then immediately confronted by two school groundskeepers, Joseph Kodiseng and Simon Manamela,[8] who were both slashed and injured. All three were taken to hospital.

Harmse's attack was concluded when he sat down on a brick wall and stuck the sword in the ground, which was grabbed by his younger brother, Corné,[8] who was standing nearby.[5] At about 7:45 a.m., Harmse was escorted to the principal's office, and fifteen minutes later, was arrested by police without incident. He was temporarily held in the custody of the Krugersdorp Police Station.[5]


On 20 August 2008, Harmse was charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder at the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court.[9] He was later sent to the Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital for mental health evaluation.[9] On 25 October, after two consecutive months of mental health evaluation and two postponements of the court date, Harmse was ruled to be mentally fit by Magistrate Joachim Nortje.[10]

The case was transferred to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for trial in front of Judge Gerhardus Hattingh. On 14 April 2009 Harmse pleaded guilty to all four charges,[11] and on 10 October, he was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.[12]


Blame on Satanism and media[edit]

In the aftermath of the attacks, blame was put on Satanism, which Harmse took an interest in. Harmse claimed that Satan had told him to do it,[5] and that he followed the practice of Satanism. When police executed a search in Harmse's room, they found "disturbing elements of Satanism" that included ouija boards and "spell books."

Heavy metal act Slipknot was also blamed for the attacks as Harmse obtained masks resembling those of the band members, and was reportedly listening to the band months before.[7] This resulted in media attention and criticism of the band,[6] who initially responded with "no comment".

Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor later issued a response to Harmse's actions:[13]

Obviously, I'm disturbed by the fact that people were hurt and someone died. As far as my responsibility for that goes, it stops there, because I know our message is actually very positive. I'm not encouraging anybody to kill anybody. I encourage our fans to express themselves, to stick together and to help each other.


The parents of Morné Harmse, Machiel and Liza Harmse, issued a formal apology to the Pretorius family.[14]


  1. ^ a b "'Want to see something cool?'". News24. 18 August 2008. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "'Satanism blamed in wake of Krugersdorp sword slaying'". Cape Argus. 21 August 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008. 
  3. ^ "Harmse 'liked to sharpen sword'". News24. 27 August 2008. Archived from the original on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008. 
  4. ^ a b "'Learner blames Satan for murderous rampage'". SABC News. 18 August 2008. Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "'The devil didn't make him do it'". The Times. 19 August 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008. Rumours of Satanism playing a part in high-profile murders should not be taken seriously, according to the head of the police's investigative psychology unit. Senior Superintendent Gerard Labuschagne was responding to claims that a matric pupil stabbed a fellow pupil yesterday because 'Satan told him to kill the children'. 
  6. ^ a b "'Heavy metal band Slipknot is blamed for inspiring schoolboy to stab classmate to death'". The Daily Mail. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d "'Now what, sir?'". IOL. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "'Sword killer wanted to be somebody'". The Sunday Independent. 24 August 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "' Teen in court after Samurai-style killing '". IOL. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  10. ^ "Sword slaying suspect fit for trial". Independent Online. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008. 
  11. ^ "'Sword killer' pleads guilty". News24. Sapa. 14 April 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "Sword killer gets 20 years". News24. Sapa. 10 October 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  13. ^ "'How deadly is our music ... really?'". Daily Dispatch. 25 August 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  14. ^ "'Satanism blamed in teen's killing'". Calgary Herald. 25 August 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 

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