Facts pointed to Griekwastad boy - cop

2013-03-27 22:15
Northern Cape High Court (Picture: Volksblad)

Northern Cape High Court (Picture: Volksblad)

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Kimberley - The investigator in a Griekwastad triple murder was in agony before declaring a 16-year-old boy a suspect, the Northern Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

"I was in mental agony, the facts of the scene... fingers started to point to him, a boy of 15," Colonel Dick De Waal told Northern Cape Judge President Krans Kgomo.

Kgomo was listening to evidence in the murder trial of a 16-year-old boy, who was 15-years-old at the time of the killings.

"I could not think that a boy could be involved in such a matter," the policeman said.

Northern Cape farmer Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and daughter Marthella, 14, was killed on their farm Naauwhoek, on 6 April 2012.

De Waal told the court he gave the boy the benefit of the doubt from the start.

"We tried all possibilities away from the boy."

He said eventually the investigating team informed the boy through his lawyer in May last year, almost a month after the murders, that he was a suspect.

De Waal said instruction was received from the prosecuting authority that the boy be treated as a suspect and that any discussions with him should be through his lawyer.

The court heard that the boy's legal team - since he was informed of being a suspect - never phoned to find out how the investigation was going or if any other suspects were identified.

De Waal testified that tests for firing residue on the victims had turned out negative.

Unusual scene

Earlier, he said a gunpowder residue test conducted on the boy's hands was negative, while tests done on two shirts were positive.

The court heard that the murder scene was unusual.

De Waal said house breaking, robbery and farm attack scenes were usually left in chaos. There were no signs of forced entry at the farmhouse.

Usually the victims were tied up and there would be signs of a struggle, with furniture knocked over.

De Waal said at these kind of crime scenes the inhabitants' belongings, such as clothes and personal items, would have been thrown from cupboards and drawers. In this case only one or two drawers were found open.

The court heard no luxury items were stolen, except for allegations of some money and a knife from one of the victims.

Six cellphones, usually a popular item taken during robberies and farm attacks, were found in the house.

Prosecutor Hannes Cloete meticulously took De Waal through evidence indicating the firearm safe was found open, with firearms and ammunition still inside it.

The investigator testified that getting firearms was usually the motive behind farm attacks. In this case, firearms were left in the safe and the murder weapons were found outside the house.

De Waal said a .357 revolver and a .22 rifle, which were found outside the house, were the weapons used to kill the Steenkamps.

They were linked positively with empty cartridges found with the firearms and on the scene in the house.

Electrical equipment such as computers, laptops and radios were left undisturbed in the farm house. The land-line had not been destroyed, the television was still on, and the DVD player and DSTV decoder were untouched.

The family was apparently watching the television show Vetkoekpaleis on the night of the murders.

Three wallets were found in the house, with about R4 000 in one of them, De Waal testified.

De Waal told Kgomo he investigated the possibility of some sort of revenge attack on the Steenkamps.

"We could not find any evidence of a revenge attack. They were dear members of the community and people praised them."

The boy's legal counsel Willem Coetzee said that he would not be able to finish his cross examination within a day.

Media warned

Kgomo postponed the trail to 2 September.

He advised reporters to "please avoid" approaching witnesses for whatever reason.

"Please do not do that."

Kgomo said media interviews with witnesses, potential witnesses and even the family of the victims and the youth would only complicate the manner.

He said that if the practice persisted, he would exclude the media from the hearing.

"The family have given various interviews and there was even a mention of a discussion with the boy."

Kgomo addressed the prosecution and the defence team and said no complaint had been received yet.

"The media knows what to do. I do not want to be prescriptive and complicate the matter.

"If it comes to that, I would exclude them, if the red line was crossed," he said.

The prosecution and the defence agreed, but had nothing to add to the matter.

At the start of the trial, Kgomo held that the media could be present at the trial, but that the youth may not be identified.

Read more on:    kimberley  |  griekwastad murders

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