Family and neighbours stand trial for deaths of church members and professionals
The alleged “Krugersdorp killers”‚ a group of six accused of carrying out 11 vicious murders‚ will stand trial in the high court in Johannesburg today [Monday].
The accused are Cecilia Steyn‚ her friend Marinda Steyn and her two children Marcel and Leroux Steyn‚ and Zak Valentine.
The group is charged with murdering 11 people from 2012 to 2016‚ robbery‚ aggravated assault‚ possession of an unlicensed firearm‚ fraud and identity theft.
The murders are believed to have started when Cecilia Steyn‚ a self-proclaimed child psychologist‚ had a fall out with the pastor of the Overcomers Through Christ church.
In July 2012‚ church member and lawyer Natacha Burger had her throat slit in her neighbour’s home. The neighbour‚ Joyce Boonzaaier‚ was also killed in the same way. Police believe the killers forced Boonzaaier to lure Burger to her house so that they could kill her.
The following month‚ Pastor Reginald Bendixen was stabbed and hacked to death with an axe at his home in Honeydew‚ western Johannesburg.
Valentine’s wife‚ 25-year-old Mikeila‚ was killed in October 2012 in their home in Ruimsig‚ Roodepoort‚ apparently because she refused to support the alleged murderous revenge plot carried out by her husband and other breakaway members of the church. Police said her blood and intestines were splattered on the ceiling.
It is alleged that the four murders emboldened Valentine and his accomplices. They are alleged to have committed seven more murders in the Krugersdorp area‚ mostly for money.
Investigating officer Ben Booysen said the accused all have the tattoo Electus per Deus (Chosen by God).
“They don’t speak about God‚ they talk about ‘our’ god‚ but at this stage I don’t know who their god is‚” said Booysen.
John Barnard‚ a 40-year-old printmaker‚ got involved with the group shortly after the initial murders and joined them in their alleged killing spree of the seven others.
Barnard confessed last year and was sentenced to 30 years in jail with 10 suspended on condition that he testify against the other accused.
In November 2015‚ he said the group targeted his long-time employers Peter and Joan Meyer‚ because he thought they kept millions of rand in cash in safe at their home in Noordheuwel‚ Krugersdorp.
He said that when they realised there was no money‚ Valentine “lost it” and stabbed the couple.
The failed robbery then allegedly sparked a new plan to fake Valentine’s death so that they could claim a life insurance payout. Cecilia Steyn was the sole beneficiary of Valentine’s policy.
Barnard testified that he‚ Valentine and Leroux Steyn befriended Jarrod Jackson‚ who lived on the street. Valentine invited Jackson on a trip to the Free State in December 2015. On the way‚ they strangled him‚ put him in the driver’s seat and set the car on fire‚ according to Barnard.
They then claimed that the dead man was Valentine and applied for the policy payout. When the insurance company suspected foul play and refused to pay out‚ the group allegedly changed their modus operandi.
In January 2016‚ the group made an appointment with tax consultant Glen McGregor at his smallholding in Randfontein‚ near Krugersdorp. There they allegedly forced him to transfer money into Marinda Steyn’s account and then shot him in the stomach.
Insurance brokers Anthony Scholefield and Kevin McAlpine and estate agent Hanlé Lategan were allegedly approached in a similar way.
A police source said: “They made appointments with all these people at Key West shopping centre in Krugersdorp‚ among other places. Then they would phone them and say something like their car had broken down and ask if they could meet at the local hospital.”
“Once there‚ they would lure them into Marinda’s flat‚ which is opposite the hospital‚ tie them up and murder them.” The bodies were then dumped.
The case is expected to last till June 29.
TIMELINE OF DEATH
July 26: Natacha Burger‚ 33‚ and her neighbour Joyce Boonzaaier‚ 68‚ had their throats slit in Centurion. The bodies were found in Boonzaaier’s home.
August 14: Pastor Reginald Bendixen‚ 75‚ was stabbed and hacked to death at his home in Honeydew.
October 11: Mikeila Valentine‚ 25‚ was stabbed to death in the home she shared with her husband‚ Zak Valentine.
November 27: Peter Meyer‚ 51‚ and his wife Joan‚ 47‚ were stabbed to death at their home in Rudd Street‚ Noordheuwel.
December 6: Jarrod Jackson‚ 44‚ was burnt to death in a car in Petrus Steyn in the Free State.
January 27: Glen McGregor‚ 57‚ was shot on his smallholding in Randfontein.
May 10: Anthony Scholefield‚ 64‚ was strangled to death. His body was found in the boot of his car‚ which was abandoned on Premier Street in Krugersdorp. His belongings were stolen and R9 600 was withdrawn from his bank account.
May 26: The body of Kevin McAlpine‚ 29‚ was found in the boot of his car on the corner of Sivewright and Francis streets in Krugersdorp. He was robbed of his wedding ring‚ laptop‚ shoes‚ watch and R1 300 in cash. He had been married to 26-year-old Kezia for a year and she was six months pregnant.
May 31: The body of Hanlé Lategan‚ 52‚ was discovered in the veld along the Randfontein River on a farm in Elandsvlei. Her cell phone‚ gold and diamond ring‚ watch and R3 000 in cash was stolen. Her car was found in front of the Krugersdorp Private Hospital.
IN THE DOCK ARE:
Cecilia Steyn‚ 35
The alleged ringleader of the group. Self-proclaimed psychologist. Long history of problems‚ according to her parents.
Zak Valentine‚ 32
Soft-spoken and well-liked. An insurance broker. Graduated from North-West University cum laude.
Marinda Steyn‚ 50
High school teacher and well liked by colleagues. Close friend of Cecilia Steyn (not related). Accused of hiding ammunition in her classroom.
Marcel Steyn‚ 19
Introvert. Refused to be photographed. Straight A student who loves reading. Devoutly loyal to her mother‚ Marinda Steyn.
Leroux Steyn‚ 21
Feels “safe” in jail. Shows no emotion but loves his mother Marinda Steyn very much.
John Barnard‚ 40
Confessed‚ tried separately and sentenced to 30 years’ jail‚ 10 of which were suspended on condition that he testify against the other accused. Worked for the Meyers for many years.