Greed and lust for money caused the three remaining “Krugersdorp killers” to go on a murder spree between 2012 and 2016, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg heard on Thursday
State prosecutor Gerrit Roberts SC told the court that 11 people had been killed on the instructions of supposed ring ringleader Cecilia Steyn, 38, because of greed.
She is accused of being the mastermind behind the group dubbed “Electus per Deus” (Chosen by God). She and her co-accused Zack Valentine, 35 and Marcel Steyn have pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.
Marcel’s mother Marinda Steyn, is currently serving 11 life terms and 115 years in jail. 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.
Marinda Steyn was identified as the manager of the enterprise while Marcel, Le Roux, Valentine and Barnard were the foot soldiers.
Roberts argued that there was evidence before court that Cecilia Steyn had identified all the victims and ordered their killings to get their money.
In 2012, Natacha Burger and her neighbour Joyce Bonzaaier were stabbed to death in Centurion, while Pastor Reginald Bendixen was stabbed and hacked to death with an axe in Honeydew. Valentine’s wife Mikeila Valentine was killed because the group allegedly feared she was going to go to the police about their criminal activities.
Bonzaaier’s death was mentioned as collateral damage because she had witnessed Burger’s murder.
Roberts said Pieter and John Meyer were slain in 2015 for their money, by Marinda, Marcel and Valentine who were following Cecilia Steyn’s instructions.
“Le Roux was not present during the Meyer killings, he was in hospital after he accidentally shot himself. The money which was robbed from the deceased couple’s home was later handed to Cecilia,” said Roberts.
The group also petrol bombed Light House Full Gospel Church where George Nel was a pastor.
In one instance in 2016, Cecilia coerced Valentine to fake his death in order to cash in his life policy and raise funds for their “ministry”. Valentine then made Cecilia a beneficiary of his life insurance policy.
Juice mixed with drugs
Roberts said Jarred Jackson was identified in the bid to pass off as Valentine. He was brought to Cecilia Steyn’s home where he accompanied Valentine on a trip. He was then given a juice laced with drugs before being strangled.
His body was placed inside a vehicle which was later set alight in the Free State.
“After Jackson’s death, Valentine faked his death and used a fraudulent identity document with new names. He hoped that once his death was faked, his policy would be cashed out and he would start a new life with a new identity document.
“They wanted to assist Valentine to fake his death. Cecilia was implicated by Le Roux’s earlier testimony as the one who laced Jackson’s drink. Jackson’s murder formed part of the of common cause of the group to claim R3,7m from Valentine’s life policy. For one to fake his death, he must be part and parcel of the plan,” Roberts said.
News24 earlier reported that, after the group obtained all the necessary paperwork to prove Valentine was “deceased”, claim was made to Discovery Life insurance and a new identity book in the name of Jacques de Villiers was procured for Valentine.
Cecilia Steyn allegedly told Valentine to hide out at the Herberg Hotel, three blocks from her residence, in order to keep up the pretense that he was dead.
He was later arrested on 22 April 2016, using the name “Michael de Villiers”.
The trial continues on Friday.
In Kruger National Park