'Krugersdorp killings': Mastermind guilty of several counts of murder

Cecilia Steyn, the mastermind behind the "Krugersdorp killings", has been found guilty of 32 charges, including several counts of murder, in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

Her co-accused, Zak Valentine and Marcel Steyn, were also found guilty of charges linked to the crime spree, which took place in and around Krugersdorp between 2012 and 2016.

Judge Jacob Francis handed down judgment on Monday afternoon.

In delivering his ruling, Francis pointed out that the group's murder spree was carefully planned and executed.

"These were not random acts of violence," he said.

Prosecutor Gerrit Roberts SC told the court that 11 people had been killed on Cecilia’s instructions.

'Religious scam'

Cecilia, Valentine and Marcel (who is not related to Cecilia) had pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. Steyn was accused of being the mastermind behind the group dubbed Electus per Deus (Chosen by God).

"This is a case of religious manipulation and lies.

"It was a religious scam like the ones we are seeing across the country," said Francis, before adding that accused number two, Cecilia, had "lied to and manipulated" the people she had worked with.

"It is evident that accused number two is a pathological liar and skilled manipulator. She was an evasive witness and came across as argumentative."

Francis described Electus per Deus as being akin to a business, which had a modus operandi and was professionally managed.

He found all three of the accused guilty of most of the 32 counts which included murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, fraud and intimidation. 

'Failed dismally'

On 12 of the 32 counts, all three were found guilty; on 10 of the counts, Valentine and Cecilia were found guilty; and on nine, Cecilia and Marcel were found guilty, while Valentine - being the sole accused – was found not guilty on a single count.

Francis said it was clear that Marcel's mother, Marinda Steyn, had attempted to clear Cecilia with her testimony, but that this had "failed dismally" as Marcel decided to come clean in court, implicating Cecilia. 

Marcel's older brother, Le Roux Steyn, was also a part of the group, but had entered into a plea bargain with the State in May last year. He was found guilty of committing seven murders and sentenced to 35 years for each of them. Ten years of his sentence were suspended on condition that he testified at the trial.

Marinda is currently serving 11 life terms and 115 years in prison after pleading guilty.

*This article has been updated to reflect that there were only 11 murders, and not 16 as previously reported due to a misreading of the murder counts.

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