Teen held for murders

2012-08-22 00:00

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy was yesterday arrested for the murders of a farming couple from Griekwastad and their daughter on Good Friday.

The teen was arrested at his school in Bloemfontein and taken to Kimberley.

Deon and Christel Steenkamp and their daughter, Marthella, were shot dead in their Northern Cape farmhouse. Their son, Don, was the only survivor.

Sister paper Volksblad learned that the results of forensic tests led to yesterday’s arrest.

Gunpowder residue was found on the clothes of the teenager, and his fingerprints were on two firearms that were allegedly used in the shootings.

Police had to wait for the test results before making their arrest.

Experts told Volksblad that blood can be detected on clothes even if they have been washed, and gunpowder residue can leave traces on clothes, even if it is washed off the hands of someone who has fired a weapon.

The odd circumstances of the crime, and the lack of news from the police, have led to widespread speculation. Earlier this month, the National Prosecuting Authority said a decision on who to prosecute would be made on the basis of the evidence gathered by the police. “We want to make sure the case is strong enough to stand up in court. The evidence must be watertight,” the NPA said in a statement.

Later yesterday, intensive negotiations took place between police, lawyers and relatives of the Steenkamp family in the offices of the Hawks at Kimberley. The arrested teenager was also present.

The boy was arrested just after 9 am at his school. The headmaster said the police arrived early yesterday morning and asked him to call the boy to his office. “They then arrested him on three charges of murder.”

At the Hawks offices, attorney Stoffel de Jager and advocate Willem Coetzee, who represent the minor, discussed the arrest with state advocate Tanya Birch and her team.

Police spokesperson Captain Cherelle Ehlers said the boy would appear in court at Griekwastad on Thursday and would be held in a place of safety until then.

Volksblad learned that the town’s magistrate, Christo Els, who knew the murdered Steenkamps, recused himself from the case, which will be heard by a magistrate from a neighbouring town.

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