Welkom dad dumbfounded about ritual murder


It's dusk and the garden flat in Welkom is silent. It’s raining into the holes where police have unearthed a man’s arm, foot and head.

The remains have been removed from the scene but paintings inside the flat send shivers down your spine: twisted, fanged faces that seem to scream in terror.

In the passage is something akin to an altar – was some kind of ritual performed here on the night recently when electrician Michael van Eck (24) died?

That evening he told his mom he was driving to the area where the flat is situated to pick up a young woman he’d met on MXit. They were going to the movies.

Parts of his body were found in a shallow grave in a cemetery the next day and two days later Maartens van der Merwe (24) and Chané van Heerden (20) were arrested in connection with his murder. Skin from his face was found in a fridge at the flat.

Chane’s dad, who asked to remain anonymous, is still incredulous that his daughter might have been part of the horror crime. He said although she had dropped out of school in Grade 10 she later went to college to study graphic design and started excelling.

The happiest he has seen her was in recent times after she’d met Maartens at a party.

Maartens, who has a history of hospitalisation for psychosis and a type of epilepsy characterised by aggression, had asked Chané’s father for his consent to marry her shortly after the murder.

“We went to a restaurant for a drink. He stuttered a bit, which is probably normal when you’re asking a father for his daughter’s hand.”

Psychopaths and people with psychosis often lose touch with reality, says Professor Dap Louw, head of the Centre for Psychology and the Law at Free State University.

They also have hallucinations, hear imaginary voices and experience delusions. On Facebook Maartens wrote he’d seen a swimming pool crawling with spiders while at a party.

It seems as if Chané may have symptoms of psychopathy, Professor Louw says.

Psychopaths and people with psychosis often merely fantasise about gruesome acts as opposed to carrying them out. But when a psychopath and a person suffering from psychosis join forces the person being told about the fantasy responds with fascination rather than disgust.

“And then one day something just clicks and they start actually planning it,” Professor Louw says.

Read the full article in YOU, 21 April 2011.

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