The legal representative of convicted Krugersdorp killer Zak Valentine has argued that he was brainwashed and manipulated into doing things he would have never done before meeting Cecilia Steyn.
Valentine, Steyn and Marcel Steyn appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, for day three of their pre-sentencing proceedings.
Steyn, Valentine and Marcel Steyn were found guilty of 32 counts between them, including murder, fraud, racketeering and robbery.
The three convicted killers formed part of a group called Electus per Deus (Chosen by God) who murdered 11 people between 2012 and 2016.
Arguing in mitigation of sentence, advocate Amanda Nel told the court that he had committed the crimes because he had been indoctrinated by Steyn.
Nel said Valentine was intelligent, but that he was also very gullible, and that Steyn had used this to brainwash him.
"Steyn played on those shortcomings; let’s call them soft spots," Nel said.
"Something happened between accused one [Valentine] and accused two [Steyn] that caused him to go on this killing spree."
Nel added that Valentine would have never committed these crimes if it was not for the influence of Steyn.
Nel did concede that the excuse of being brainwashed was never brought up during the trial and could also not answer the question of what hold Steyn supposedly had over Valentine.
"We cannot say what hold she had on him, or what gave her that control."
'Never lived a normal life'
Valentine was not the only member of the group who was allegedly brainwashed by Steyn.
News24 previously reported that psychologist Rosalind Macnab believed that 21-year-old Marcel, could be rehabilitated and integrated back into society following her sentence.
"Marcel never lived a normal life. She was manipulated, brainwashed into believing that the group [Electus Per Deus] was God's way. She believed if she did not follow their way she would die, something she is still fearing," Macnab told the court during earlier pre-sentencing hearings.
Marcel's mother, former school teacher Marinda Steyn, is currently serving 11 life terms and 115 years in prison, while her brother, Le Roux Steyn, who was also part of the group, is serving 35 years after he entered into a plea bargain with the State for his role in seven of the murders. Ten years of his sentence were suspended on condition that he testify at the trial.
Another member of the group, John Barnard, who also testified during the trial, is currently serving 20 years, News24 earlier reported.
The matter continues.
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