“Goodbye you killers. Goodbye, we will not see you again.”
These were the words of some seated in the packed gallery in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg as the group dubbed the Krugersdorp Killers were given concurrent life sentences on Monday.
Some members of the gallery, however, were brought to tears as the protracted trial finally came to an end.
Tears flowed down the cheeks of some of the relatives of the 11 victims who were brutally killed by convicted murderers Zak Valentine, Cecilia Steyn and Marcel Steyn.
Valentine, Cecilia and Marcel were sentenced to multiple life terms in jail by Judge Ellem Jacob Francis who found them guilty of killing and robbing 11 people, running a criminal enterprise, fraud, theft, malicious damage to property, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit murder as well as the possession of unlicenced firearms and ammunition.
Ferde de Wit, whose sibling Hanlie Lategaan was one of the murder victims, expressed his satisfaction that justice had been served.
“I feel good and it is a good sentence they received,” he said.
De Wit added he was happy all the accused had received multiple life sentences.
“If you take away a life, you must also get a life sentence from the court. People who kill others, they don’t think about the emotions and trauma they cause to those close to the deceased,” he said.
Cecilia Scholefeld lost her father-in-law, Anthony Scholefeld, who was also among the 11 murder victims.
“I am happy that they got what they deserved. They tried to manipulate the court and they failed.”
But, despite the court’s ruling, “they will never bring back our loved ones”, she said.
“There are no words to express how we feel about the entire situation and are very grateful with the sentence the judge has delivered today,” Cecilia added.
Kezia McAlpine said she was now left with having to explain to her young child what happened to her husband, Kevin McAlpine.
“My child is very young and will have to know what happened to his father.”
McAlpine said the three accused had not shown any remorse, even after they were found guilty.
“They lacked remorse. I am glad about the sentence imposed by the judge.”
She added all she could do now that the trial was over, was tell her son “what a wonderful man his father was and that he loved him very much”.