'Evil versus good': Religion cuts both ways in Krugersdorp murder trial
Judge Ellem Francis said on Monday he would allow hearsay evidence in the Krugersdorp murder case as long as it did not render the trial unfair.
Judge Francis started delivering judgment on Monday by recapping evidence and quoting case law.
Cecilia Steyn, 37, Zak Valentine, 33, and Marcel Steyn, 21, have pleaded not guilty to 32 counts, including murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, fraud and intimidation.
Marcel's mother, Marinda Steyn, 51, has already been sentenced to 11 life terms for the killing spree. Her brother, Le Roux Steyn, entered into a plea bargain with the state in 2018 and is serving a 25-year prison term.
The state's case is that they were all part of Electus Per Deus, a group that viewed itself as "chosen by God" and which allegedly killed 11 people between 2012 and 2016.
The state called more than 40 witnesses to testify.
Judge Francis noted that Marcel had a change of heart and decided to tell the truth about her involvement in the commission of the offences.
One of the main issues the court said it would determine in coming to a verdict was whether all three accused participated directly or indirectly in the murders.
"It is common cause that a group of individuals associated through a ministry and or an enterprise existed," Francis said.
He said the state would have to prove that an enterprise existed and that Cecilia Steyn participated in its affairs, directly or indirectly.
He said mere speculation did not satisfy the criteria the court would use in determining admissibility of evidence.
"Hearsay is admissible as long it doesn't render the trial unfair."
Francis said none of the counsels for the accused had argued how the admission of hearsay evidence would render the trial unfair. This despite being invited to do so.
The court also noted that some of the witnesses who had testified were told by Cecilia Steyn that she was a bride of Satan, that she could walk on water and could read minds, among other things.
They also believed Cecilia Steyn was a former satanist.
"It is almost as if Cecilia had cast a spell on them.
"Some of the crucial witnesses said Cecilia played a crucial role in the murders," Francis said.
He described the murders as a "tragic" incident in which 11 innocent people died.
"The matter involved evil versus good. The matter is a reminder of the dangers religious people face."