Riddle of slain farm family

2012-04-19 00:00

“IT is extremely important to find the motive behind the murders,” was former Brigadier Piet Byle­veld’s advice to the detectives investigating a mysterious family murder in Griekwastad.

“The murder scene must be investigated properly,” the veteran detective, who helped to solve the riddle of Inge Lotz’s murder, told Volksblad yesterday.

Friends and family yesterday attended the cremation of the slain Steenkamp family, who two weeks ago died in a hail of bullets while they were watching TV in their farmhouse near Griekwastad.

The private service took place in Kimberley early yesterday morning under conditions of strict secrecy.

The bodies of Deon  Steenkamp (44), his wife Christel (43) and their daughter, Marthella (14) were taken to the crematorium in the West End graveyard.

The only member of the family who survived the tragedy is the Steenkamps’ other child, Don (15).

The boy returned on Sunday to Bloemfontein to Grey College, but he was back with his family in the Northern Cape after just a day.

Family members earlier said jealously could possibly have played a role in the murders.

Byleveld, who was asked by Professor Jan Lotz to investigate the murder of his daughter, also pointed out the importance of forensic tests in a murder case.

A legal expert who handles many criminal prosecutions said it was vital to test for gunpowder on the hands of the deceased and suspects, as this could determine who had pulled the trigger.

The legal expert said the whole investigation after a murder could be hampered if these tests were not done.

“Questions [about who is the murder] will never be able get an answer.

“The case will never be solved.”

A forensic expert said the shooter could have washed off the gunpowder residue with hot water and soap.

But chances were that the murderer would be too rushed to rub off all the microscopic residue.

The expert said the powder also backfired on to the shooter’s arms and clothes.

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