Krugersdorp killers found guilty of grisly murder spree
The South Gauteng High Court on Monday convicted the three people accused of a spate of brutal murders in Krugersdorp. They were also convicted of a number of other crimes.
Cecilia Steyn, 37 - along with Marcel Steyn, 21, and Zak Valentine, 33 - had pleaded not guilty to 32 counts, including murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, fraud and intimidation.
In finding the trio guilty, judge Ellem Francis rejected the evidence given by Cecilia, Marcel and Valentine. He said they had been part of an "enterprise", with Cecilia being the mastermind and the beneficiary of the proceeds.
The court described Cecilia as an instigator, a master of deception, a pathological liar and the person who issued instructions and manipulated her co-accused.
"Accused two [Cecilia] was part of the planning of the offences and was the beneficiary of the proceeds. She is a pathological liar and a highly skilled manipulator who had abused the generosity of innocent people," said Francis.
"It has been shown that she lied about her need for spiritual protection, her qualifications, the fake boyfriends and girlfriends. Her denial in the involvement of a cult doesn't make sense."
The court said Cecilia had not provided any reason why anyone would implicate her in the murders if she had nothing to do with them. Without Cecilia's involvement, none of the murders would have taken place.
Marcel's brother Le Roux Steyn entered into a plea bargain with the state in 2018. Marcel's mother Marinda Steyn, 51, has already been sentenced to 11 life terms for the killing spree.
They were all part of Electus Per Deus, a group that viewed themselves as chosen by God, which allegedly killed 11 people between 2012 and 2016.
Dealing with Marinda's evidence, the court found that she did not shy away from lying to protect Cecilia and Marcel. "She lied under oath to exonerate Marcel and Cecilia entirely. Unfortunately that plan backfired," said Francis.
He also described Valentine as a poor witness. "His testimony did not impress me. He raised three versions, none of which can be true," said the judge.
Evidence against him was extremely overwhelming, the court found. "The state has proven that accused one [Valentine] associated with the enterprise and he participated in murders on instruction of its leader, accused two [Cecilia]," said Francis.
The court rejected Marcel's evidence and the timing of her telling the truth. "Her claim that she had been manipulated by Cecilia and her mother [Marinda] holds no water," said Francis.
The court said Marcel was highly intelligent and knew what she had gotten herself into. Her change of heart "to tell the truth" was described by the court as a "tactical" decision.
"She fully knew she was acting unlawfully. She could have easily distanced herself," said Francis.