Killer teen’s strange change

2014-05-14 00:00

KIMBERLEY — The 17-year-old minor found guilty of the triple murder of the Steenkamp family on a farm in Griekwastad two years ago, has changed from a quiet, disengaged boy into a teenager who cracks jokes and enjoys attention.

Were it not for the charges hanging over him, the teen’s actions during the ongoing court case would have been considered abnormal in any classroom, said his teachers, testifying at his sentencing hearing yesterday.

The teen was convicted in March of the murders of Deon and Christel Steenkamp and the rape and murder of their daughter, Marthella (14), and of defeating the ends of justice.

Brian du Plessis, head of the Afrikaans department at Grey College, Bloemfontein, said the boy had been a quiet loner before the murders. After the murders his behaviour changed and he was more self-assured, acting “normal”.

But it was not normal for a child affected by death to act like that, the teacher said, adding he even paid more attention in class.

John-Henry Dykman, a science teacher and hostel master, also testified the boy had been quiet before the murders but afterward started to behave strangely, leaving the classroom “tens of times” to stand in the sun or walking to Dykman’s desk while he was teaching to stare at Dykman, allegedly to see what his teacher was doing.

At one point, the boy stood up in the middle of the class and dropped his pants to his knees “to tuck in his shirt”.

Dykman and Johan Volsteedt, principal at Grey College, decided to let the incidents slide and did not discipline the boy. Riaan Bode, the boy’s attorney, denied the incidents.

The teenager’s family are meanwhile being torn by conflicting views on the murder charges.

On one side are family members who fear the boy will also “come for them” when he has served his sentence.

On the other side are the boy’s late grandfather on his father’s side and his grandmother on his mother’s side, who believes he is innocent and that the real murderer will one day be found.

Advocate Hannes Cloete, for the state, yesterday offered testimonies of the impact the murder has had on the families and the community in aggravation of the minor’s sentencing.

The minor was in court yesterday and frowned throughout Cloete’s argument. He looked pale, probably from lack of sun while he is being held in prison.

Northern Cape Judge President Frans Kgomo is hearing the case, which continues today.

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