Showmax’s Devilsdorp is a WTF-fest

Devilsdorp is a true crime documentary series covering a spate of horrific murders in Krugersdorp. The killings took place between 2012 and 2016 with 11 people being murdered during that time. The documentary examines the origins of the murders and the shocking court revelations over four episodes. 

Journalist Jana Marx wrote the book The Krugersdorp Cult Killings: Inside Cecilia Steyn’s Reign of Terror on which the documentary is based. Marx narrated and consulted on the Showmax Original documentary. She grounds the narrative as it flips back and forth between the past and present. 

Speaking to the Daily Vox, Marx told us at the time she was working as a court journalist. 

“This was one of the cases that landed on my desk. I usually read the indictments the evening before. Once the facts came out in court I was completely hooked. But this was so bizarre – it just caught my attention. I sat in court for 60 days. From the moment the case was transferred to the Johannesburg High Court, I covered it throughout. The book came into existence this way,” said Marx.

The series investigates the Krugersdorp Killings, also known as The Appointment Murders and the Satanic Murders. It looks at how it all traced back to Cecilia Steyn and her Electus per Deus (Chosen by God) cult. 

The first episode purposefully leaves the viewer confused. I tend to read up conclusions to anything I watch beforehand. But many things had me having WTF moments throughout. The first episode was an easy sell to binge the remaining three. The cinematography, eerie score and expert use of narrators were right on the money. 

Devilsdorp shows us footage of exorcisms, church meetings, and trial proceedings. We are given first-hand accounts from cops, insurance claim specialists,and families of the victims. 

Director David Enright said it was important to look deeper than the sensation. He wanted to show and understand why these horrendous murders took place. 

“People always wonder how Steyn managed to manipulate the members of her cult […] to commit the gruesome murders on her behalf. Devilsdorp zooms in on the psychology behind these people’s behaviour – and not in a way that justifies any crimes,” Marx said. 

The  twists and turns keep on coming from episode two. There’s the satanic church links and a journalist falling in love with one of the accused killers. Mariska Coetzer fell in love with one of the murderers, Le Roux Steyn, while covering the trial.

Your WTF moments become GTFO very quickly. Coetzer provides levity while narrating with her bubbly demeanour – at odds with the serious subject matter. She published a book about her fledgling romance that is still going strong. 

Maybe I am desensitised as a city girl, but I never thought something like this would happen in a small Afrikaner town. Devilsdorp is not chilling – it is radioactive with the subject at hand. 

Steyn’s web of control and ultimate manipulation of people is exposed and torn apart. A surprising element was the cop who bust the killers, Captain Ben Booysen. He has this Afrikaner cowboy demeanour, and did not take leave for two years till he solved the case

The production can compete with any international documentary. The narrative is clear, and the use of archival footage is eloquently spun in between the interviews. The series is triggering, authentic, and graphic at times. This is what I call a “down the rabbit hole” kind of show. You will be googling long after you finish the last episode. There is so much more I could say but I don’t want to post spoilers.  

Marx reminded me as we spoke that there is a web of victims left behind. No one is an individual anymore if you are connected to Cecilia Steyn, she said. 

Our morbid fascinations with real-life horrors are easily satisfied with Devilsdorp. But we should be cognisant as always that many victims were left in the wake of this brutality. Even if the show is thrillingly and expertly documented.  

The upcoming long weekend is the perfect time to binge-watch Devilsdorp, only on Showmax 

Featured image provided by Shoxmax