Teen led to jail in cuffs after conviction

2014-03-28 00:00

KIMBERLEY — The teenager found guilty of the murders of a Griekwastad farming family spent his first night behind bars as a convicted prisoner last night.

Northern Cape judge president Frans Kgomo refused to extend the 17-year-old’s bail after finding him guilty of the murders of Deon (44), Christel (43) and Marthella Steenkamp (14) on April 6, 2012.

He said his guilt had been proven not just beyond a reasonable doubt but without a scintilla of doubt.

He said the murders were premeditated. The boy was found guilty of the three murders, as well as of the rape of Marthella and of obstruction of justice. He showed no emotion as his bail was withdrawn and he was led off to prison in handcuffs.

Delivering his ruling on bail, Kgomo said he didn’t know the boy his guardian described.

While testifying in support of bail, the guardian was visibly shocked when shown a photograph taken a few weeks ago of the teen with a hunting rifle. Prosecutor Hannes Cloete accused him of irresponsibility.

The teenager blushed at this point and stared at his family.

Early in his judgment, Kgomo made it clear he regarded the boy’s testimony as worthless and untruthful.

“The boy might as well not have testified,” he said.

Deon Steenkamp’s character and legacy were besmirched by allegations about the rape, he said.

It was obvious that Marthella was raped beforehand, and the murders were supposed to cover this up.

The judge listed 15 reasons why he was convinced of the boy’s guilt.

Among them were that all three were first shot with the Steenkamps’ .357 revolver and then executed with their .22 rifle. The boy was alone and could not have managed both weapons at the same time.

A safe full of loaded firearms stood open. The house’s back door was open and there was no sign of a break-in. The killer could not have hidden in the house for 45 minutes and slipped past the family unnoticed. The boy did not hide in the barn, but said he did in order to look innocent. The girl was attacked outside. The boy placed blood outside the house in another place in order to bolster his story about being in the barn.

Even if the boy had been innocent, he was cold and unfeeling. He did nothing to help the wounded family or to call for help.

An attacker could not have come to the farm alone and on foot and murdered everyone except the boy, and then fled with nothing except a knife and bunch of keys, Kgomo said.

The boy was a good shot, who could have defended himself and phoned the police from the barn.

The postmortem and a subsequent investigation by an expert proved forcible sexual penetration of Marthella. The judge said it was inconceivable that the boy, who claimed she loved him, would not have asked who did that.

If the boy was guilty of murder and rape, he was also guilty of obstruction of justice. He pointed the finger at other unknown people and sent the police on fruitless searches.

After the judgment, Deon Steenkamp’s two sisters, Marianna Smith and Elbeth Vermaak, said they believed justice had been done. They thanked the policed for their excellent detective work and said they had been treated with empathy by the state.

However, the boy’s guardian said he is still convinced of his innocence and they plan to appeal the verdict. He admitted that the boy was allowed to handle firearms while in his care, after the murders were committed.

The case was postponed until May 13 for argument on sentencing.

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