Youngest suspect implicated in Krugersdorp murders takes the stand

Zak Valentine, Cecilia Steyn and Marcel Steyn waiting for the trial to proceed. Photo: Michelle Swart.

Zak Valentine, Cecilia Steyn and Marcel Steyn waiting for the trial to proceed. Photo: Michelle Swart.

Prior to today’s proceedings, the testimony given by others had insinuated that she was not involved in any of the crimes.

The so-called Krugersdorp murders trial resumed on Monday morning, after the court last convened on December 3 last year.

Today’s session marks the final stretch of the defendants’ testimony. Krugersdorp News’ Natasha Pretorius and Michelle Swart reported from inside the courtroom throughout the day.

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At 10.45am, the final accused, Marcel Steyn, took the stand after delaying the court proceedings by arriving late, with Cecilia Steyn. It was thought that heavy traffic might have held up their convoy.

Marcel noted that Cecilia Steyn, her husband, their children, she herself and, at a later stage, Le Roux Steyn, lived together after Marcel moved to Cecilia’s home to help out with the children because Cecilia’s health was deteriorating.

For many, Marcel’s next words were completely unexpected. She stated that she meant to speak the truth, and as far as she was able, not to lie. Prior to today’s proceedings, the testimony given by others had insinuated that she was not involved in any of the crimes.

Now, she wanted to disclose to the court that she was involved in certain aspects, saying that she couldn’t handle the lies any more. She added that she was fearful about the revelations she was prepared to make in court, because she didn’t know how Cecilia would react.

Cecilia had reportedly told the group of perpetrators about an orphanage for children who had been taken out of Satanic churches and sent there by their parents, who didn’t want them to be involved in these churches. Marcel only knew that there was an orphanage that they were supposedly trying to help. This was the main reason why she was involved in the group.

With regard to the charges of intimidation, where packages were placed under cars, Marcel claimed that Cecilia had told them that Natacha Burger, a member of Ria Grunewald’s prayer group, had written a prayer that somehow led to many orphanage children dying, adding that it was Cecilia’s intention to scare them into stopping the prayers.

This seemed to be the reasoning Cecilia used to convince the group to commit Natacha’s murder.

Using the ploy of a missing cat, Marcel allegedly attempted to gain access to Natacha’s house by asking if she could check if the cat was inside. She was denied access at this point.

She alleged that, on the day of the murder, Zak and Mikeila Valentine went to the scene, while Marcel remained at the flat until Zak and Mikeila returned. She was given Zak’s knife to clean with Jik.

According to Marcel, Zak had to kill both Natacha and Joy Bonsaaier, as Mikeila couldn’t fulfil her role, which was to kill Joy in her room.

With regard to Pastor Reginald John Bendixen’s murder, the first time they tried to murder him, Marcel was overcome with feelings of nausea and panic.

According to her, the group had a standing agreement that if one person did not wish to go through with a murder at the time, they would turn around. Marcel never felt that any of this was real during Natacha’s murder. Bendixen’s murder, in fact, felt like too much too quickly for her. This is when the standing agreement was implemented.

Cecilia was purportedly upset that they had not killed Bendixen, saying that they were wasting her time and that she might as well just have given herself up to the “Satanic church”. Marinda Steyn, however, was said to have been against this idea and wanted to work on another plan for the murder.

Zak allegedly dressed up in a police uniform and wig to look like a woman, and Marinda Steyn told Bendixen that they were detectives investigating Natacha’s murder. After entering through the front door, Zak and Marinda allegedly attacked Bendixen. Upon his stabbing, Marcel said she “froze”.

Cecilia reportedly told the group that they were in a time of war, and that God had instructed her to commit these murders. She told the group the story of David in the Bible, that he went out and killed many people at God’s command.

She said that in a time of war, there are other rules than usual. Marcel, at one point, also believed that Cecilia could “astral project” and read their thoughts, making her more fearful of Cecilia finding out how she felt.

Marcel was tearful when she spoke of Mikeila Valentine’s death. She claimed that Marinda hit and stabbed her, at which point Marcel herself then stabbed Mikeila, because, she said, she feared that Cecilia would be told if she didn’t. Marcel said that she asked, “What if she did not talk?”, hoping that they wouldn’t have to kill her, but Cecilia did not agree.

Marcel noted that they were looking for someone with a lot of money, and came upon Peter and Joan Meyer. It was decided that Marinda would pretend to have a grant or tender to present to them. After Marcel was picked up from school, they proceeded to the Meyers’ home, where they were given a tour. One of the Meyers’ sons and his girlfriend was reportedly there, so they did not proceed with the murder.

Marcel was still in her school uniform at this point.

Le Roux Steyn was supposed to go along for the murder of the Meyers, but had accidentally shot himself earlier. Cecilia didn’t want to wait any longer, so Marcel was told to go along. The group was told that the Meyers’ son had gone out for take-aways.

Marcel noted that Zak was pacing and Marinda initiated the process of robbing the couple, intimidating them with a gun and telling them to get on the floor. At some point, Zak reportedly snapped and brutally attacked the couple.

This time, they did not discard the weapons in a drain as usual, but simply threw them out of the window, along with the Meyers’ wallet and cellphone. Afterwards, they reportedly went to a casino where Zak won R2,000 on a Blackjack table. This money was used to buy medication for a woman in the Satanic church who had kidney problems.

“I felt that the Meyers’ murders were not justified. They died for nothing. My brother went through a rebellious phase, and it was said he was endangering the group, and that he would be disposed of like Mikeila,” Marcel said.

“We (the group) didn’t really have a name. It was just ‘us’ initially. Our purpose was to support Cecilia to pray on high days, to make sure that the Satanic church didn’t get her and learn from her. We believed her so much,” she responded when asked about the group’s name, Electus Per Deus.

“As I got older, we got more involved in the social side of the group. Sometimes we would talk about God and Cecilia would teach us.”

Marcel said she didn’t see them as a group. “I saw them as my family.”

The court proceedings have resumed after the lunch break, and another article will follow shortly, providing more details of the hearing.

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