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Thu Mar 23 02:24:34 SAST 2017

Boy who killed in cold blood

Lin Sampson | 2014-05-13 00:03:10.0

After dusk on April 6 2012, a Good Friday, in Griekwastad in the Northern Cape, a youth arrived at the local police station, covered in blood shouting: "You must come. They've been shot. They are all dead."

So begins the strange and sinister story documented by Jacques Steenkamp in The Griekwastad Murders: The Crime that Shook South Africa.

Don Steenkamp (no relation to the author) - a 15-year-old national tent-pegging champion, a scholar at Grey College in Bloemfontein and a regular churchgoer - said his parents and his sister had been shot during an invasion of their Naauwhoek farm while he was in the barn.

Four months later, the evidence pointed to an even more disturbing possibility - the boy did it.

On August 21, Jacques received a text that the teenager had been arrested for the murders of his parents, Deon and Christelle, and the rape and murder of his sister, Marthella.

Amid the ensuing media frenzy, Jacques tried to get the full story , interviewing as many of the family' s relatives as he could.

A story unfolded of murder, deception and lies in an isolated town in a forlorn landscape. An unimaginable horror had managed to take root, culminating in the massacre of a wealthy and respected family.

After the boy was granted bail, he stayed with friends, took part in national gymkhana tournaments, rode his dead sister's horse and maintained a cool, calm exterior.

When the court case started almost two years later, Jacques noticed that the teenager had roving eyes.

He wrote: "I had regularly seen him checking out a woman's behind or cleavage, even in court."

In court, the boy was assertive and confident, almost emotionless. He never stammered nor tripped over his words, even when the prosecution caught him in a lie .

The trial went on for months due to the many postponements the prosecution procured.

Much of the evidence was blood-curdling. A neighbour, who was the first to stumble on the scene, testified that when he arrived, the dogs' snouts were sticky with congealed human blood.

Northern Cape Judge President Frans Kgomo ruled that the boy had killed his entire family to cover up his sexual abuse of his sister.

While the book makes for a compelling and frightening read, it does seem driven by the desire to be the first book on the shelves.

Sentencing starts today .

  • 'The Griekwastad Murders: The Crime that Shook South Africa' by Jacques Steenkamp, is published by Random House Struik, and is available at Exclusive Books for R190

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