'Loving' pair held over grim killing
Maartens van der Merwe seemed like a nice chap. His new girlfriend's family welcomed him with open arms and even took him along on a fishing trip.
On Monday, when the 24-year-old asked Chane van Heerden's father for her hand in marriage, he didn't hesitate to give his blessing - although he cautioned the pair to wait a while.
Chane's father had no idea that the couple had allegedly committed a brutal murder last weekend.
On Tuesday, the young couple were arrested for the gruesome murder of a young mine electrician, Michael van Eck.
"After meeting Maartens, I thought, 'What a nice chap.' He was intelligent, well-mannered and a total gentleman," said Chane's father.
He asked that his first name be withheld.
Police found Van Eck's head in a fridge and his right arm in a cupboard in the couple's rented flat in Welkom, in the Free State.
His ears were found in a bottle of water. A foot was buried in the garden together with two cats.
The rest of Van Eck's dismembered body was buried in a shallow grave in the Jewish section of the town's cemetery. His bloodied T-shirt was found at the gate of the cemetery.
Welkom police spokesman Captain Stephen Thakeng said police had not ruled out the possible involvement of a satanic cult in Van Eck's murder .
Bloodstains at the entrance to the cemetery were still visible on Friday when the Sunday Times visited the scene.
"The daughter we know and love is not capable of the things she's accused of," said Chane's father, still shocked that his daughter had been arrested for the murder that has rocked the small town.
Van Heerden, who was reluctant to talk about his family, described Chane, 20, as "beautiful, full of love and laughter, and normal".
"She used to love her art and worked full-time as a graphic designer," he said.
She left home two years ago to live on her own, and moved in with Van der Merwe last month. She had introduced him to her parents in December, and a few weeks ago they all went on a fishing trip to the Vaal Dam.
"You could just see that they were so in love. I haven't seen her laughing so much. She was so happily in love," said her mother, who also asked that her first name not be published.
"Maartens caught his first fish ever. He was like a little boy, so excited, and you could see it was an amazing experience for him."
Asked whether Chane was involved in a cult, her father said: "She did wear black, but not all the time.
"It was not a religious statement, but more of a fashion statement."
He said his daughter attended Bible classes and loved watching the National Geographic channel on television.
"We used to speak about things like quantum physics, and we spoke a lot about planets and life out there. She isn't a person who spoke about koekies (biscuits) and stuff like that," said her father.
Chane, who studied at a further education and training college, was due to receive an award for an N6 graphic design course she completed last year.
Neighbours in St Helena, a suburb of Welkom where police found Van Eck's body parts, described the couple as unfriendly and strange.
Tammy Botha, who lived next door, said she had seen them only twice since they moved in a month ago.
Botha's daughter, Vicky, described them as "strange".
"They were always quiet. I've never even heard them playing music. They just never came out of the house."
The family of the murdered man, who were still in a state of shock, declined to comment.
Chane and Maartens appeared in the Welkom Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
The matter was postponed to May 20 to allow police to conduct further investigations.