It was his job to help people and save lives. Instead, he turned to murder…
Philippe Neniere was a well-respected man. Born in France, he trained there and became a doctor.
Then, in the 1980s, he and his life partner Agnis Jardel relocated to South Africa.
By 1998, they were living in a farmhouse near Sutherland, 170 miles from Cape Town. Philippe was working as a hospital superintendent. Agnis told neighbours she’d previously worked in advertising. Though, now, the couple wanted to drop out of the rat race, get away from the city.
Initially, they were sociable towards their new community. But, by 2009, the couple were in thrall to an American-based school of enlightenment and believed in the ‘third eye’.
They started greeting neighbours by kissing or rubbing their ‘third eye’, allegedly located on the forehead. Many regarded the school –which warned of the imminent end of the world – as a cult. It was convinced only believers would be saved and, certain the end would come in 2012, it began to prepare for it.
Though Philippe and Agnis loved nature and lived an increasingly hippy-like lifestyle, they progressively withdrew from the community, opting to have their groceries delivered to their rented farmhouse, rather than go into town.
They asked their landlord to build them a survival bunker. He laughed off their bizarre request, though, much to the couple’s fury. Soon, the pair began to steal food from neighbouring homes. And Agnis spent hours alone outside, staring forlornly into the local dam.
Philippe and Agnis also burned books that challenged their beliefs. They saw non-believers as the enemy, and began stockpiling guns and ammunition. They also kept tins of food, several years past their use-by date, in their cellar. Initially, the couple were so anti-violence, they wouldn’t even kill snakes around their property. But the religion to which they were in thrall prophesied doom. And the doctor and his partner literally danced to its tune – they’d don cloaks and take part in strange, after-dark rituals.
As the enlightenment school is against both paper money and the stock market, the pair also gave up using banks. Philippe and Agnis became thin and unkempt, burnt twigs they collected for fuel. They went into town to sell small household goods from their home, in order to bring in some much-needed cash. Yet still they saw themselves as ‘chosen people’ who’d survive because of their faith.
Towards the end, their narcissism knew no bounds. When a neighbour offered Philippe work, he said, ‘I’m an intellectual. I don’t need a job.’
Their landlord had allowed them to live in the house for 12 years rent-free, as they provided security for the farm. But when his relatives wanted to renovate the building and move in, he nervously asked the couple to leave.
They agreed to vacate the premises by December 2010 – but didn’t.
The landlord went to the police and told them of the couple’s bizarre behaviour.
On 21 January 2011, four unarmed officers went to the house. Philippe, 60, greeted them politely.
Police examined his weapons and informed him his licences were out of date. The doctor was told they’d have to be confiscated.
He remained calm and walked out to the officers’ vehicle with them. Then, suddenly, he pulled out a handgun, shooting officer Jacob Boleme, 27.
As Boleme slumped to the ground, the doctor shot the officer again to make sure he was dead. Philippe Neniere then shot a second officer through the spine, causing serious injuries.
Meanwhile, Agnis Jardel, 55, fired at the men from the house.
Then the couple both shot out the tyres of the police vehicles and ran into the fields.
For the next four days, Neniere and Jardel lived rough, using their survivalist training.
Police used helicopters to scour the area, fearing Neniere and Jardel might strike again at any moment, but the pair knew every inch of the region.
Unknown to police, they had crept back to the farmhouse. Then, two days on, they were spotted by infrared sensors.
A gunfight ensued, during which police threw stun grenades into the building.
Rather than be taken alive, Neniere shot Jardel, then turned the gun on himself.
It was all over.
For a year, the couple’s bodies remained at the morgue. As no friends or relatives claimed them, they were eventually buried at the expense of the local authorities.
An ending to Neniere and Jardel’s story as strange as their lives…