Judgment proceedings against the so-called “Krugersdorp killers” got off to a slow start on Monday owing to an hour-and-a-half delay in transporting two of the accused – “bride of Satan” Cecilia Steyn, 38, and Zack Valentine, 35. The court heard that only two vehicles were available to transport 40 prisoners on Monday morning, resulting in the delay.
Their co-accused, 21-year-old Marcel Steyn, was waiting in the dock since before proceedings were scheduled to begin at 10:00, occasionally speaking to friends, relatives and her defence council.
Cecilia Steyn is accused of being the mastermind behind the group dubbed “Electus per Deus” (Chosen by God). She and her co-accused have pleaded not guilty to 11 murder charges, among others.
Delivering judgment, Judge Jacob Francis said it was clear that Marcel’s mother, Marinda Steyn, had attempted to clear Cecilia with her testimony, but that this failed “dismally” as Marcel decided to come clean in court, implicating Cecilia.
Marinda is currently serving 11 life terms and 115 years in jail after pleading guilty.
Marcel’s elder brother Le Roux Steyn was also a part of the group, but entered into a plea bargain with the State in May last year. He was found guilty of seven murders and sentenced to 35 years for each of them. Ten years of his sentence were suspended on condition that he testified at the trial.
Another member of the group, John Barnard, is serving 20 years after he was sentenced in 2016.
Francis described Electus per Deus as akin to a business operation, which had a modus operandi and was managed professionally.
Marinda Steyn was identified as the manager of the enterprise, while Marcel Steyn, Le Roux Steyn, Valentine and Barnard were the foot soldiers.
It was a matter involving the forces of light over those of darkness, Francis said as he read through all the evidence presented to court.
‘A matter of evil against good’
“This is a matter of religious manipulation and lies. A matter involving evil against good. A matter of a person stating that she is a very powerful witch. This matter is a sober reminder of how people are sometimes manipulated by religious leaders.”
The evidence included how the group allegedly murdered several people in an effort to obtain money, as well as staging the death of Valentine in order to receive a life insurance payout. Some of the murders were allegedly committed by Marinda and Le Roux, with Marcel present. They would allegedly make appointments with their victims and keep them hostage, while Marcel took their bank cards to an ATM to authenticate the PINs the victims had given them. Once confirmed, the victims would be killed and money taken from their accounts.
All this money was allegedly obtained under the pretext of caring for orphans and assisting former Satanists.
“According to the evidence, almost all who knew Cecilia believed that she had certain powers. They believed her when she told them about the orphanage, even though none of them knew where this orphanage was situated,” Francis said.
Valentine’s wife, Mikeila, was also allegedly killed in 2012 when she wanted to leave the group. Another member of the group, Jared Jackson, was allegedly murdered and his remains burnt in Valentine’s car in order to stage the latter’s death.
The court adjourned for lunch at 13:30 on Monday.
Judgment is expected to be handed down over the course of the next few days.
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