One of the the “Krugersdorp killers” on trial for murder in Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has denied ever playing a part in his wife’s murder
Advocate Amanda Nel told the court on Friday that her client, 35-year-old Zack Valentine, was not involved in the death of his wife Mikeila Valentine.
The court earlier heard evidence from witnesses that Mikeila had been hit with a hammer and later stabbed with a knife.
Valentine is standing trial, together with his co-accused Cecilia Steyn, 38 and Marcel Steyn, 21. They allegedly went on a murder spree between 2012 and 2016, killing 11 people on the instructions of supposed ring ringleader Cecilia Steyn.
Marcel and Cecilia are not related, but they had lived under one roof.
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.
Cecilia is accused of being the mastermind behind the group, dubbed “Electus per Deus” (Chosen by God), which allegedly targeted Christians and wealthy people around Krugersdorp.
Nel argued that the evidence that Valentine had killed his wife was hearsay which was never corroborated by anyone in court.
“Valentine only told Cecilia that Mikeila wanted to quit the group. It is Marcel who told the court that Cecilia and Marinda planned Mikeila’s death.”
She added that Marinda wanted to implicate Valentine.
“Marinda and Valentine didn’t like each other. They were fighting over Cecilia’s attention. Valentine didn’t give Marinda a set of spare keys of his property,” said Nel.
During Marinda’s trial, the court was told that Valentine had given Marinda a set of spare keys to enter his home and kill Mikeila.
Nel laid the blame at Cecilia’s door, saying she was the central figure and leader of the group.
Initially the group, together with Cecilia, were part of a Christian ministry called Overcomers Through Christ, before they joined Cecilia’s newly formed group “Electus per Deus” (Chosen by God).
Nel said that there was no evidence before court that established where Cecilia was baptised or converted to Christianity.
“Nobody was privy to that, nobody witnessed that. Cecilia claimed she was a second generation witch. She spoke about Satanism with conviction and one was convinced that she was a Satanist.
“I agree that she was a pathological liar. And, indeed, it is possible for a person to masquerade as a Christian. We have heard that Satanic church is alive and its ultimate goal is to destroy Christianity,” said Nel.
“Valentine was indoctrinated by Cecilia. He was emotionally involved with Cecilia, because he felt sorry for her as she was sick. Valentine was manipulated by Cecilia, he spent over R2m of his money for Cecilia, thinking it was for an orphanage run by Cecilia, and thought his money went for a good cause,” Nel argued.
The court has not established if any orphanage did exist.