What initially began as one woman's pursuit for revenge, turned into an organised crime syndicate, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg heard on the second day of the trial of the so-called Krugersdorp killers.
"Cecilia was agitated and at the time, she was seeing a shrink which cost her R5 000, so she needed money," a state witness Le Roux Steyn told the court on Wednesday.
He was referring to Cecilia Steyn, who is in the dock with Zak Valentine, 33, and Marcel Steyn, 20. The three pleaded not guilty to 32 counts, including murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, fraud and intimidation.
They were part of the so-called Krugersdorp killers, also dubbed Electus Per Deus (Chosen by God) ministry. The Krugersdorp killers were a group of five people who committed a string of crimes around Krugersdorp from 2012 to 2016.
The court previously heard that Cecilia had a fallout with Overcomers Through Christ (OTC) leader Ria Grunewald and as a result, she formed her own ministry, Chosen by God. The ministry's main purpose was to avenge Grunewald.
On Wednesday, Le Roux testified that Cecilia was bent on revenge against Grunewald after they had a fallout, but this elevated into an organised crime syndicate in pursuit of funds for the Electus Per Deus ministry.
According to the witness, Cecilia manipulated the group into staging several attacks on the OTC ministry and killing anyone who was close to Grunewald from 2012.
The group "laid low" in 2015 due to Cecilia's suspicions that they were being followed, but they were forced to be active again once funds ran low, according to Le Roux.
Because of a lack of funds, Cecilia instructed the group to target wealthy individuals for money.
"All the money we made went to Cecilia," Le Roux said.
He told the court about various incidents.
Peter and Joan Meyer
The first "wealthy victims" were business owners Peter and Joan Meyer.
The court heard that the group solicited a meeting with Peter Meyer, pretending that they wanted to assist the business financially.
On November 27, 2015, they went to the home of Peter Meyer without Cecilia.
"On the day of the murder; Zak Valentine, my mother (Marinda Steyn) and sister (Marcel Steyn) were there. Marinda took out the gun and asked for money. After they couldn't find money, Valentine stabbed him (Meyer)," the witness testified.
Cecilia was said to be less than impressed when the group only returned to her apartment with R600.
As a result, Cecilia created a plan to fake Valentine's death in order to obtain his life insurance payout.
When this plan proved to be a challenge, Cecilia instructed the group to scout more victims.
McGregor, who ran a tax advice business, was lured by Marinda Steyn under the false pretence that she needed tax assistance, the court heard.
Le Roux told the court that he, Marinda and John Barnard met with McGregor at his home.
Once the group got McGregor's PIN, they robbed him of R6 000.
McAlpine who was a financial broker was lured under the false pretence of a meeting with a potential client at 17 Cosanna Flats – where Cecilia lived.
His wife who was seven months pregnant at the time of her husband's death, cried in the public gallery when she heard Le Roux's testimony.
Le Roux told the court that they robbed him of R1 300 before they killed him and disposed of his body in his silver BMW.
"He (McAlpine) was carried in a big Pikitup dustbin and we used the service stairs to transport the body to the car. We put him in the back of the car and abandoned the vehicle with the keys still in it," Steyn explained.
Cecilia was not impressed with the R1 300 because it was "not a lot of money", the court heard.
Real estate agent Hanlie Lategan was lured by Marinda Steyn under the false pretence that she was looking for a home in Krugersdorp.
After the group obtained her PIN numbers and robbed her of R3 000, Lategan was strangled.
The group could not use their usual method of disposing of the body in the boot of the victim's car.
Marcel Steyn and John Barnard would allegedly always verify the PINs at the nearest ATM, while Valentine, Marinda Steyn and Le Roux Steyn carried out the killings and then disposed of the bodies and evidence, the court heard.
"Disposal of the body was not through the use of the deceased’s car because the estate agent was driving a Remax-branded car - not a personal vehicle," Le Roux explained.
Le Roux turned State witness after entering into a plea bargain with the State in May.
The witness' mother, former teacher Marinda Steyn, was sentenced to 11 life terms and 115 years imprisonment, according to a previous News24 report.
The trial is expected to continue on Thursday where the defence will cross-examine Le Roux.