Man in court for cemetery murder

2012-02-24 18:19

Welkom - A man accused of the graveyard killing of Welkom resident Michael van Eck appeared in the Virginia circuit court on Friday.

The trial of Maartens van der Merwe, 24, was postponed to April 16.

The court ordered that Van der Merwe be transferred to Pretoria Central Prison where a private psychiatric evaluation would be done to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.

Van der Merwe is accused of helping Charn van Heerden murder and dismember Van Eck, 23, at a Welkom cemetery in April 2010.

Separate trials

Van der Merwe's trial was separated from Van Heerden's last year. He has yet to enter a plea.

Van Heerden was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years behind bars on November 25, after being convicted of Van Eck's murder and dismemberment.

Some of Van Eck's remains were found in a shallow grave at the cemetery, while others - including his facial skin, an eye, and his ears - were found in the couple's fridge.

Other body parts were found in a cupboard and in their garden.

Free State Judge Albert Kruger declared Van Heerden a dangerous criminal.

He ordered her to return to court in 20 years for a re-evaluation of her case.

The court would decide then, with the help of experts, whether she was fit to be released back into society or needed to remain in jail.

  • Ken - 2012-02-24 18:57

    These monsters must never be released.

  • Omnivore - 2012-02-24 19:15

    I can't believe they even allow for the option of releasing Van Heerden. She's clearly nuts & she can't help herself. Lock her up and throw away the key.

      Marion - 2012-02-25 00:11

      @Omnivore... the scariest part is that she was found to be perfectly sane, perfectly normal looking and absolutely dangerous. She should never see the light of day again. Ever.

  • Lynda - 2012-02-24 19:36

    Why do we molly coddle these monsters.....death sentence, be done with them, sorry no extenuating circumstances

  • Cindy Mendes - 2012-02-25 00:04

    Death sentence that is the only way we will get the monsters off the streets, we didn't have all these horrible crimes when the death sentence was in place people were scare of it... Now they know they can get away with murder... It is Sad that the law protects the criminals...

      Marion - 2012-02-25 00:21

      I can't quite make up my mind about how I feel about the death sentence. I believe that people who commit atrocities like this one (atrocity is too mild) should not have the right to breathe anymore. But I also believe that it is immoral to pay someone, to expect someone, to commit what is in effect condoned murder. If the death sentence is ever reinstated they mustn't ask me to be the executioner. Would drive me more insane than I already am. In SOME countries statistics do support the theory that the death penalty is not a deterrent. However, I honestly believe that if I was living in a squatter camp, unemployed, cold, wet and hungry and I knew that I wasn't going to die I would be prepared to commit murder just to get into one of those fancy private maximum security prisons where all my needs would be taken care of and I could study so that when I got parole I could start my life over with qualifications. However, those same undesirable circumstances would look much more desirable to me than being executed.

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