THEY trusted him with their lives shared a strong bond, yet he did not think twice about killing them in cold blood.
The mystery behind a gruesome farm murder that rocked the small Northern Cape town of Griekwastad two years ago was finally revealed yesterday when the High Court in Kimberley found a 17-year-old boy guilty of murdering Deon, 44, and Christel Steenkamp, 43, and their 14-year-old daughter Marthella on their farm.
The murderer, who was 15 at the time he shot the family and who cannot be identified as he is still a minor, was also found guilty of raping Marthella and defeating the ends of justice. He will be sentenced in May and was refused bail.
The motive for the triple murder was the cover-up of a rape.
The boy had forced himself on Marthella – not for the first time – and she fought back. Worried about her parents discovering the crime, he eliminated them.
The teen showed no emotion as Judge Frans Kgomo found the murder was premeditated and the motive was to conceal the rape.
“The minor’s motive for the killing was to silence the girl from reporting and to eliminate [the parents] for fear of bearing witness against him,” Kgomo said.
The court heard how, in less than half an hour, just after 6.30pm on April 6, Good Friday, 2012, the three family members were wiped out – and they did not see it coming.
All were executed at close range with shots from a rifle and a revolver belonging to the family – first Christel, then Marthella and finally Deon.
Pathology reports showed that Marthella was raped more than once 24 hours before her death.
She had several cuts and bruises and her eyes were swollen shut from her injuries. Her defensive wounds showed she had fought back “like a tigress”.
Yesterday, Kgomo not only found the boy to be a liar, but said his version of events was “far-fetched conjecture”.
His account that he was in a barn when intruders murdered the Steenkamps left “too many loose ends”.
Kgomo questioned why the family’s dogs did not bark, why there was no forced entry, why nothing was stolen other than an unremarkable knife. He said the killer knew the farm house intimately.
Steenkamp family members who attended yesterday’s proceedings said they were “too emotional” to comment.
Defence lawyer Riaan Bode did not say if the boy would appeal. – Leonie Wagner