'I just want to hold my children one last time': Krugersdorp killings mastermind Cecilia Steyn
All Cecilia Steyn wants to do is hold her children in her arms and tell them she loves them.
Meanwhile, her mom, Mara Brandt, still believes in Cecilia's innocence, despite her daughter being found guilty of being the mastermind behind a four-year killing spree in Krugersdorp.
The convicted murderer told TimesLIVE ahead of her sentencing it made her crazy not being able to hold her two children.
"I can handle anything that happens in prison or in court, but the fact that I am not able to hold my children, that's something that makes me go crazy.
"Yes, I am going to be sentenced, but I'm not the only one who is going to be sentenced - my children are going to be sentenced too," Cecilia told TimesLIVE.
Cecilia, Marinda Steyn, along with her two children, Le Roux and Marcel, and Zak Valentine were eventually linked to the deaths of 11 people as part of a series of killings in Krugersdorp between 2012 and 2016.
Cecilia, Valentine and Marcel are awaiting sentencing from Monday.
Cecilia said her children, a boy and a girl - whose ages she did not want to disclose - only visited her during school holidays, with her ex husband Andries "Dries" Steyn, whom she divorced in 2018.
"He is the father of my children and goes out of his way to make sure that I see my children. We are still good friends, we have always been good friends," she said.
The mother of two described her time in prison as tough, saying everything she took for granted outside prison, she was now grateful for.
"You get tired at times, because in prison you have to fight for everything - from coffee to sugar to milk.
"One person has a can of beef, everyone eats. It is like family. You are behind bars for 18 hours with these people so you have to get along with them."
Cecilia said she did not know half of the people who testified against her and her co-accused.
"These people who testified and claimed they knew me well, how well did they know me?
"All these people who knew me, would know that I am gay, but they don't know me."
Cecilia said all the problems started when she and Ria Grunewald, a leader of the Overcomers Through Christ (OTC) group, had a fallout. Cecilia broke away from OTC to form the Electus Per Deus or "Chosen by God" group.
She said her friendship with Grunewald ended because Grunewald became jealous of her relationship with Marinda. Cecilia said Grunewald would stand by her bedroom window to try to listen to their conversations.
"We were always together, Marinda's children were always at my house. We would cook and watch series together. Zak is the sweetest person you would meet. We were a family."
Cecilia said she expected the "worst" on Monday, saying "you will have to accept it how it comes".
When asked if she had a message to the families of the victims, she said: "All of us lost a family member in the past and we all know how it feels. I am really sorry they lost family members, but what do you say to someone who lost someone? Nothing that you say can change that or make it better.
"It doesn't matter what a judge or anyone says, I am not going to say I did something I never did."
Her parents, Mara and Piet Brandt, steadfastly believe in their daughter's innocence.
The 63-year-old Mara speaks fondly of Cecilia's childhood. Their daughter was born in Harrismith in the Free State. Mara and Piet moved from there to Venterspost, on the West Rand, in 1989 when Piet worked in the mining industry.
"[Cecilia] was an obedient child who you never spoke to twice. If you called her, she came. We never had any problems with her," Mara recalled, adding that she was a top achiever at school - and a good mother.
"Her children got everything their hearts desired. They had their own rooms, PlayStations and televisions, and never lacked anything at school."
The children took R20 to school every day to buy hamburgers and snacks, the grandparents said.
"Cecilia was, and is still, a good mother.
"I believe 100% in her innocence. Cecilia had never even been to Marinda's flat (where most of the murders took place). She can't even tell you how her flat looks inside."
Mara saw her daughter's arrest on television, and is reluctant to show her face in public.
"This case ruined our lives. For the past four years I haven't gone out to buy groceries, because if they see me, they spit in my face and say, 'there is the mother of the murderer'."