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De Waal alive when set alight

Murdered teenager Louise de Waal was alive when she was set alight, the High Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court in Alberton, heard on Wednesday.

Johannes Steyn has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu. Credit: INLSA

Forensic specialist Gina Rowe testified that soot and blood-stained froth was found when she examined De Waal's trachea and bronchi.

“It was inhaled into her lungs.”

Judge Sida Kolbe asked if De Waal was alive for this to happen, to which Rowe answered: “It would have been an indication of life”.

De Waal's mother Shereen gasped “Oh, my God”, putting her hands over her mouth.

But Rowe said there was not a lot of soot in her trachea, and therefore it was possible she had been unconscious.

Rowe explained the graphic findings of the post mortem, including De Waal's badly burnt scalp and protruding tongue. Her left foot was burnt off her body and the soft tissue was burnt off her lower legs.

Her carbon monoxide levels were at 9.8 percent, which Rowe said was high.

“I would expect lower levels (because she was burnt outside).”

Johannes Jacobus Steyn, dubbed the “Sunday Rapist”, is accused of murdering school girls De Waal and Lazanne Farmer.

He is also charged with 11 counts of rape, 10 of sexual assault, 10 of kidnapping, one of attempted sexual assault, one of attempted kidnapping and two of assault.

The 11 girls he allegedly attacked between 2008 and 2011 were all between 11 and 18 years old.

The 36-year-old pleaded not guilty to all 37 charges against him on Monday.

On Tuesday, the court heard that an identikit compiled by a friend of De Waal's led to Steyn's arrest.

Policeman Warrant Officer Riaan Jooste testified that he received a call on October 17, the day De Waal was murdered, from a woman who wanted to remain anonymous.

Jooste narrowed the list down to 17 possible suspects, searched police files and found Steyn in the system because he had previously laid a complaint against someone else.

This led Warrant Officer Danie Pieterse to search for a silver bakkie at Steyn's house, which he found. He could not enter the property because the gate was locked.

During a break in proceedings, De Waal's mother Shereen told Steyn to look at her, but the unresponsive Steyn kept his head down throughout the day, a Bible beside him, making notes.

The case was postponed to Wednesday. - Sapa

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