David J Smith
David J Smith

Where have all the satanists gone?

When I was but a child, our land faced the most terrible of plagues. A deadly disease of the soul. We were under siege from the forces of darkness. Yes, satanists! The footmen of hell. The third and final pillar of white fear. Oh, let us count them together. One. die swart gevaar! Two. die rooi gevaar! And three. die donker gevaar! When our government wasn’t harassing black people and communists, it was fighting satanists.

The fear spread across the land. People became obsessed with the unholy workings of Mephisto. In between slices of melktart, old tannies warned us that society was rotten to the core, riddled with Luciferian worms. They said Satan had polluted the minds of children through radio and TV. He was a wily demon capable of the most heinous deceit. And often came to us in the most innocent of disguises


… You can call yourself the Madonna but we see you, Satan, you’re no virgin! … You do not fool us in your Noddy outfit. We know you’ve been sleeping with Big Ears and cavorting with those Golliwogs …


Huisgenoot and You magazine told us about the human sacrifices there by the Carletonville mine dump and down by the beach in PE Me? I was just kid, but I had my theories. I was convinced it was Raggerty from Rupert Bear who was behind all the evil. That little twig demon was minion no.1 in my book.

The threat was so real, the danger so clear and present, the government formed a special occult unit to protect the laager. Not since the Spanish Inquisition had such a dedicated force of demon hunters been put together. These brave men and women spent their nights tackling the depravity and lunacy of the underworld. Armed only with Bibles, R4s, LM6s, shotguns, 9mm pistols, pepper spray, truncheons, pocket knives, teargas, sjamboks, spotlights and tasers they hunted the satanist wherever he lurked. They patrolled the car park of Checkers, Pick n Pay and OK Bazaars. Headlights dimmed, engine quiet, hoping to surprise a dirty coven gathered in amongst the trolleys. They flashed their torches under the prefabs of the local primary school looking for unholy ferals. They hid out in the long grass down by the dam waiting for the hellions to show their pasty-white, blood-drained faces. They scanned any kid they met for the telltale signs of devil worship. Black nail varnish, pale skin, eyeliner, skinny jeans, a trench coat and the severed head of a goat neatly tucked under one arm. It was the nail varnish that usually gave them away. A fail-proof way to spot a malcontent child of Satan. Every few days their findings would be paraded in the local rags. A photo of an officer pointing at the cinders of an old fire. Was it a makeshift braai or a heathen offering? Were those chicken bones or the fingers of a burnt virgin?

At the height of the satanic panic I am sure the government was even holding councils of war. Deep underground in a concrete bunker somewhere near Pofadder or some such place. Their plan? To invade Hell and blow it to smithereens. The only hitch was the sinking feeling in their stomachs that some of their best buddies, Strijdom, Verwoerd and Malan, may be living down there. It would have been like blowing up your retirement village just before you go on pension. So the plan was shelved and they settled on Angola instead. Angola. Antichrist. If you squint your ears, it kind of sounds the same.

Now, you’re probably sitting at home thinking what was all the fuss? They were just a bunch of Goths and early Emo kids doing their thang. Nothing to be scared of. And you are probably right. But if you were brought up anywhere within 666 miles of a church, you’ve heard of God. You also probably know he has no qualms about turning people into pillars of salt, feeding his friends to whales or selling entire nations into slavery. And if he’s meant to be the good guy in the story, you don’t even want to know about the bad guy. Because that guy must be well bad. Bad like a never-ending elevator ride with panpipe covers of the Beatles playing. Another personal vision of Hell. I had to live it for eight weeks once in a small hotel in the North of Scotland. The panpipes morning, day and night, playing Let It Be. Medieval people associated Pan with Satan. Now I know why.

By the late eighties, no one trusted no one. People were seeing pentagrams and goat’s heads in everything. One week, the Pentagon was under suspicion. Next week it was David Kramer and those big red shoes. Only satanists have red shoes. I even remember one week You magazine told us that Saddam Hussein was the antichrist because he once wore a blue turban. Not because he murdered thousands and not because he used biological weapons on his own people but because of his fashion choices. That’s the way witchhunts go. They’re big on hysteria and not so big on logic.

Children who misbehaved were deemed to be possessed. And children who were good? Well, they were obviously possessed too. That child is too well-behaved, must be something going there. They had a saying for it in Afrikaans: Stille waters, diepe grond, onder draai die duiwel rond. Beneath the deep still water you will find the devil circling. That’s the way things went. No stone was left unturned. A hidden stash of porno mags (even the ones with the stars) or a passing interest in electric guitars was cause for an instant exorcism. Dominees, preachers, priests and pastors were working overtime to cope with the demand. Demons were flying out of kids left, right and centre. I think in some small towns in the far north, exorcisms were more popular than birthdays. … Hey, ma, it’s Riaan’s exorcism on Friday, can I go? … As long as you get your homework done … While in Natal, there were apparently more satanists down the South Coast than bananas. I could make a pun about bananas and the state of people’s minds at that time but I won’t. Let’s just say, if the hype was to be believed, the South Coast was on the verge of running out of virgins to sacrifice. The country was hurtling towards Armageddon. About to succumb to an army of fallen angels.

And then nothing. No final battle. No righteous fight. No nothing. We just forgot about it. It was like we had turned a page and the army of darkness was gone. The whole thing just fizzled out like a damp squib. The headlines disappeared. The reports disappeared. In the far North, birthday parties became big again. While on the South Coast, bananas regained their rightful place. The virgins, well, they never came back. But I’m not sure if they existed in the first place. Across the entire country, it was like all the satanists had gone to summer camp and found Jesus. You and Huisgenoot turned their minds to other important things like Steve Hofmeyer’s love life and Bles Bridges at the Sun City Superbowl.

Me, I never turned the page. My mind has stayed suspicious. That may have something to do with the Gorgoroth album playing on the stereo or the fact that it’s cold and dark outside and it’s almost Halloween. But I’ve always wondered where did all the satanists go?

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/sarahbritten Sarah Britten

    I have a cool Satanist story. For some reason they all seem to come from PE. I have a half-written blog on it.

  • Gerry

    Funny as hell! (Oops, bad pun, no cookie!).

    The Satanists disappeared because it is no longer fun to be one anymore. With all this freedom of religion stront, the disenfranchisement of the NG Kerk and no more Dr. Kobus Jonker to alienate the youth, there’s nothing left to rebel against. What’s the point? May as well become agnostic.

  • Grant

    Chortle, chortle. Lekker article, very funny.

    Perhaps the Satanists were actually NG Kerk dudes drumming up business somthing like PG Glass sponsoring a riot. When they got ditched on their holy snor-decorated asses, the Satanists suspiciously went with them.

    Do I go to hell for that?

    Or do also need to say that the church burnt way more virgins down the years than the Satanists could ever hope to keep up with and that broke their fragile little spirits? They all went for therapy and do regular workshops together in their faded Metallica T-shirts.

  • boerinbeton

    waste of time

  • Frances

    David to make a mockery of satinism shows poor judgement. First get your facts together and do some research. The war against Satin and satinism is not over by a long shot. I have seen photo’s of mutelated animals done by satinist of which the youngest member of the group was only 8 years old. If you need/want to find out more about the subject pleace get in contact with:
    1. Any local christian church
    2. Dr Kobus Jonker that did his doctorate on satinism. He also wrote a book about it, done his research and investigated satinists and their deeds.
    3. Reformed satinists (listen to their testemony of what really is going on, they have inside info)
    4. Various books are available that you can read up
    5. Google and learn
    Sorry to say but your article is of poor taste!

  • Jakes

    Funny article!!!
    I think that satanism is just some form of pastime that you practice when you are extremely bored of life.
    I also do believe that the devil could manifest himself in any form of human weakness, like greed and desire.
    Therefore one can say the devil lives in us all,and so God, and we are all both evil and good in our ways.

    So one can now realize how inadequite and moot religion can be, and satanism is no exception.
    I don’t know where all the satanists have gone, one should rather ask where has all the hysterical “satanic panic” gone since the world seems to be changing and becomming more “evil”.

  • Beast

    I was a student in Bloem, early 90’s (no I was not in Reitz). Naval hill was rumoured to be the center of the Satanic world. We spent nights onto of that hill, getting pissed on Black Lable and OBS (smoking the occasional herb…), listening to our favourite Metal bands (devil music!!!), hoping to catch a glimps of a virgin offering. 6 years, no luck!

    One night we were at our favourite metal club (Bloem actually had a couple!), Route 66. In walks this pale skinny, zit-covered, kid. He proclaimed himself to be the representative of the Prince of Darkness, trying to hit on our chicks.

    Within minutes our ficination with the dark-side vanished! Years of disappointed setions on top of Naval hill led to the a severe ass-kicking of the “price”. How dare he attempt to corrupt our already corrupted not-so-virgin girlfriends!

    Damn I mis those days…

  • Justin Barrow


    The world is now officially a better place!


  • Beast

    Who remembers Rodney Seal? The fool that professed that Queens Another one bites the dust is “Its fun to smoke Maruyana” when played backwards. He was nothing more than an undercover rep for the record and hifi companies. We destroyed many records and turn-tables trying to get to the “hidden” message.

    The satanists are still around. These days thay hang around in shopping malls. They wear jeans 5 sizes to big that cant stay up, skew caps, bum-fluff on the face and call their friends “dude” or “bi-atch”.

    Same kids, looking for attention.Only diffirence is that now nobody, including their parents, gives a sh1t.

  • http://letterdash.com/g.annandale/beggars-thieves-and-the-trappings-of-poverty G. Annandale

    They joined Creepy McRawley and his crowd and are having great fun as described on my Blog

  • http://theladyfingers.blogspot.com/ Ladyfingers

    I went to Australia.

  • http://www.vryedenker.com Vrye Denker

    They are now referred to as secular humanists.

  • http://yahoo.com Lesego

    I wonder if black people weren’t also included in the people of darkness. You know, dark people… Or was satanism a “for whites only” thing?

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  • EvylShnukums

    *lol* Thanks for this – brilliant. What a load of crap it all was. All the Rodney Seale and Kobus Jonker school speeches ever did was to pique my curiosity. Being a goth and a self-defined Pagan in a very conservative Afrikaans community I was on the receiving end of a lot of that fear-mongering nonsense. Looking back now it was actually hilarious.

    Frances, what on earth is a Satinist? People who worship shiny fabric?

  • mallencolly

    @ evylshnukums

    That would make me a satinist. Especially if said shiny fabric manifests in the form of stove-pipe trousers and a drape jacket. In tateful black of course.

    Dr Jonker and his paranoid cabal would definitely not approve.

  • Martin

    Thanks for the reminiscences David. You forgot to mention the evil “mini-skirt” though.
    During the seventies I was called in to a local high school because my son and friend had a terrible symbol drawn by Lucifer on their school bags. The deputy principal said it was a witches claw. I then explained that it was a semaphore (flag -signal) for N and D (Nuclear Disarmament) used by the “Ban the bomb” hippies in Britain after WW2. I think he was embarrassed? – but maybe not.

  • MLH

    Yes, the South Coast was always short on virgins!

    The Satanists now all work as SABC TV programmers, where they schedule ‘no-under-13′ movies for 19:30 on Saturday evenings. Must be that none of them have had children to bring up in a recession; whoever heard of 13-year-olds in bed by 19:30 when it’s not a school night?

  • James

    Do you call this “Thought leader”?! The level of thought makes one laugh…….

  • Alan

    Brilliant. I remember as a kid going down to the old Irene cemetery (centurion golf estate now) to catch a glimpse of the dreaded Satanist doing their ‘thang’. Hahaha.

  • Gareth

    I remember those days, my parents told me not to go near the ice-cream man when he rang his bell riding his bike through the neighbourhood – “He is the devil” they would say ha ha

  • Jason

    Of course, the Troll Gevaar is still a real threat (just ask Frances. She’s seen pictures).
    Great piece – really pins down the paranoid climate of moral panic.

    Ever noticed how the only “reformed satanists” you ever meet are fervent Christians? Never anyone who “reformed” by deciding it was all bullshit and they’d been acting like morons, just dogmatists who’ve switched brands.
    Always struck me as being a lot like rejecting all that Father Christmas malarky as an obvious fabrication… because clearly Rudolf is the one who *actually* does the work.

  • Michael Liermann

    Dear Frances – it’s spelled “satanism”, unless of course you refer to the cult-like worship of shiny fabrics often mistaken for silk.

    As regards Satanism, I hold with Guy Debord, who said once that even urinating on the altar was a way of paying tribute to the church.

  • Jabu

    LOL!! I’m laughing like a lunatic in the office! Great piece. We want more! We want more!

  • CB

    A fun read – thanks!
    @ Frances: Satanism is just a spinoff of Christianity. If you’re not a Christian then you don’t believe in Satan either, do you? Christianity created Satan. All a load of bollocks, if you ask me. Religion has nothing to do with true spirituality.

  • Etienne

    I remember that time well. Even “Liewe Heksie” was branded satanist at one time. We were warned against messages if you play a record backwards but we never tried it because those vinyls were expensive. To be honest though, those days there were no cellphones or internet and if you think about it the zeitgeist was probably mirrored in countries like the USA etc.The rule of fear is prevalent even today and i wonder if 30 years onward whether we will be making jokes about “peak oil” , “global warming” etc.

  • Jacques

    Ah – the well placed stars… “Scope”. It seems to have vanished along with the satanists… Co-incidence?

  • Eligos

    Eligos is a Great Duke of Hell, ruling 60 legions of demons. He discovers hidden things and knows the future of wars and how soldiers should meet. He also attracts the favour of lords, knights and other important persons. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eligos)
    I had to give up though. The only virgins I could find were underage and ugly. The only important people around – weren’t.

  • gninaem neddih on

    Vre Denker – Just a Point. Secular humanists are not Satanists. SH are logical, requiring evidence. SH by definition know that there is no invisible guy in the sky, therefore also know that there is no invisible guy with a fire fetish and bad air-con, living underground.

    The satan-gevar was just a simple side effect of the generation gap. One generation fearing that thier children were not going to turn out just like them, looking for something to blame and finding He-man, D&D, nail polish, fantasy novels, long hair and the color black.

    Where are the people-who-were-called-satanists-by-the-old-people-who-did-not-understand-them. They grew up. They are in the media, they are today’s parents, they have put away the teenage angst and invited the folks over for a braai.
    They may have some kooky interior design ideas but hey – black celings are under-rated anyway.

    As childhood expands into later life; as the Internet makes it easier for people of all ages everywhere to talk; As the breeding generation can still remember what it was like to be a teen.
    The generations communicate, reducing fear.

    This generation does not fear the next. We fight them for the Wii controller, we txt them on the beaches and update on Facebook, post embarassing pics on flicker and follow them on twitter.

    Undertanding is all we need.

  • S. Balie

    Join the Facebook group – Rodney Seale “Appreciation” society! If it wasn’t for this man hordes of Afrikaans teenagers would never have discovered the joys of rock ‘n roll!

  • Les

    Oh, how I miss the old YOU and HUISGENOOT articles… the good old days when short, fragile looking men sewed bridal dresses for their marriages to stout Afrikaner women…. (a Jan van Riebeeck look was my particular favourite) and, of course, the terror of Satan worshipping was a truth only South Africans could believe in… John Lennon was banned for saying The Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ… those were the days!

  • Thanatos


    battling against the forces of darkness in satin would be a kink unimagined by Kobus Jonker…but i’m all game for black satin and suspenders

  • Bob le hook

    Sarah – If you grew up in PE you probably wouldn’t believe there was a god and if you did you’d become a satanist as an act of revenge.

    My theory on the lack of satanist is that you can’t play a CD backwards, no subversive lyrics…no satanists . Simple

  • scott

    My ouma ,a very liberal minded NG Kerk loving 89 year old, once asked me quite politely to take “that satanic symbol” of my pencil case.

    It was an anarchy sign.

  • Moss

    It’s all true, I tell you! To this day there isn’t a single virgin left on the KZN South Coast …

  • http://www.paganrightsalliance.org Damon Leff

    If you think the Christian propaganda has stopped, think again! Supporters of ‘Africa Christian Action’ have been waging an e-mail campaign against Halloween and against Pagans in South Africa for more than a week already.

    see http://www.christianaction.org.za/downloads/BibleAndHalloween.pdf

    This, despite the fact that Pagans and Witches in South Africa are celebrating Beltain, not Halloween. We celebrate Samhain (the Pagan Halloween) in May, not in October.

    This year even the Vatican has warned parents that Halloween is an anti-Christian pagan holiday of “terror, fear and death.”

    The media is eager to please by broadcasting a largely Christian agenda when it comes to Paganism. They’re not interviewing Pagans about Beltain. They want to talk about Halloween – a Christian invention.

    It’s time journalists in this country started looking at Pagans as more than just a centre-piece of Christian controversy. You’d think ‘may’poles would be topical enough?!

  • Michael Liermann

    Moss – that is because there is very, very little to do on the KZN South Coast other than drink and fornicate.

  • Martin

    Moss? Are those satanists, who crusade to the south coast in an annual pilgramage to sacrifice their skins to Sol and their livers to Bacchus?

  • Bob of Mount Gambier

    Is this supposed to be a joke? The concept of satanism is to insult the christians and in general all religions with symbols that “scare them” it is not a religion, by all means most of those who claim to be associated with this practice are atheists. Cleared only a very weak willed and easily manipulated fool would believe in a Satan and worship him, same applies to all religion.

  • Eligos

    @ Bob of the Mountain
    You may be very surprised if you were to do only the smallest amount of research. Satanism is the name given by fearful christians to an ancient practice that goes back to Sumerian times. Read “Night-side of Eden” or “Cults of the Shadow” by Kenneth Grant and your views may change.
    There are people with very scary ideas and ways – but you will never know it unless they specifically wish it.

    @ Damon Leff
    Hey Dude! You guys made idiots of yourselves over the Mpumalanga Witchcraft Bill a while back. Just blend man! There is no need to shout your beliefs from the rooftop.

    As for the general idea of Satanism, ignorance of what really happens and just who the so-called Satanists really are, is the best camouflage possible.

  • Jeff

    “This year even the Vatican has warned parents that Halloween is an anti-Christian pagan holiday of “terror, fear and death.””
    If there’s a bigger peddlar of “terror, fear and death” than fundamental religionists then I’ll eat my hat.

  • http://mailandguradian Michael

    As an ex satanist myself I am not surprised by the ignorance you show toward the dark arts. Firstly, satanism has metamorphosised, satanists have infiltrated churches and other organisations in order to create a larger framework whereby satanists can control society. Secondly, we have witnessed the the ‘liberlaisation’ of the media,whereby journalists like yourself deoragatise something so pure and holy as a crusade to save peoples lives like my own and release us from the grips of something so purely evil like satanism. The devil is real, the occult is widespread and your ploy to cover this fact makes me wonder where your loyalties lie, not to society, but towards a righteous and just God or toward a murederer and liar masquarading as an angel. Jesus can set you free and so many others, just as he ahs set me free.

  • Johann

    The blatant lies told by Rodney Seal to school kids was closer to satanism than some of his stories about rock musicians.

    Like the Beatles song “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” was supposedly about LSD. Only if you never bothered to do research.

    Backwards masking or some crap like that.

    And today we wonder why so many people can’t think for themselves…

  • LH

    This article took me back to those days when the YOU loved to wax lyrical about the horrors of Satanism between double page spreads entitled “Jilted by My Troopie”.
    Thanks for the laughs!