22nd February 2024 3:57 pm
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Devilsdorp is a brilliant look at one of South Africa’s most disturbing stories

Small towns are strange in ways that only those from small towns can really understand. Whether you want to or not, you know enough people to know almost everybody and as such everybody’s business. I know this because I am from a small town, a small town that happens to the focus of Showmax Original Documentary series, Devilsdorp.

The series tells the story of Electus Per Deus, a cult that was eventually found responsible for the murders of 11 people between 2012 and 2016.

The documentary kicks off with some background about Krugersdorp. The town is fundamentally Christian, with a church in every neighbourhood (sometimes more) and throngs of people filtering in and out of them on Sundays. Growing up in the town it was not uncommon to have police warn children about the dangers of heavy metal, Magic: The Gathering and other properties people assumed were dangerous avenues to Satanism.

Understanding this is key to understanding how Electus Per Deus leader, Cecilia Steyn managed to manipulate people to do her bidding or make them so afraid of her that they had no choice but to obey her.

The series is punctuated with interviews from the families of victims, footage from investigations and re-enactments of the crimes committed by the cult. With a story like this, it’s easy to get side tracked and we have to commend the entire team that worked on this documentary for not getting sidetracked as a new element was added to the story.

As an example, in one episode, a journalist investigating the story, Marizka Coetzer, mentions that one of the accused, Le Roux Steyn, asked her for her number. While the producers could’ve leapt at that thread and followed it in that same episode, they didn’t. Instead that thread hangs in your mind and you’ll be reminded of it later. The way director David Enright and producers IdeaCandy tell this story is just so well done, you will be hooked 5 minutes into the first episode.

The sleepy town of Krugersdorp harboured a violent cult with more victims than members between 2012 and 2016.

According to Showmax 18 months of research went into this documentary and each interview is as important as the last. We appreciate every interview is carefully edited so as not to misconstrue what a person is saying and it really feels as if Enright and IdeaCandy wanted to insure the audience fully understood each moment of this story before moving on.

The only thing we would’ve liked to have seen is interviews with the convicted murders. Why this weren’t conducted or included is unclear although we suspect given that Jana Marx, an investigative journalist who chased the story, it’s because Cecilia Steyn tends to embellish things.

Devilsdorp plays out over four episodes that clock in at over 50 minutes in length and while you can watch it in one sitting, we suspect you will want to take a break. In fact we do recommend you take a break before the final two episodes because they get quite extreme.

While Devilsdorp is a true-crime documentary, it also highlights the dangers of religious extremism and how some people become blind to their actions in the name of listening to a deity or rather, somebody who claims to speak for a deity.

We urge you to give Devilsdorp a watch on Showmax. The platform offers a free 14-day trial which is more than enough time to watch this documentary.

With that having been said, in hopes that Showmax has more doccies like this in the works, we won’t be cancelling our subscription anytime soon.

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