Griquatown killer is no gentleman - State
Kimberley - The prosecution has painted a more ominous picture of the Griquatown killer, as opposed to the forensic criminologist, Dr Eon Sonnekus, who portrayed the 17-year-old teenager as a gentleman with a good character.
Pre-sentencing arguments are taking place in the Northern Cape High Court for the teenager who was found guilty of the murder of Deon, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and their 14-year-old daughter Marthella Steenkamp as well as raping Marthella and defeating the ends of justice on their farm Naauwhoek.
State advocate Hannes Cloete on Wednesday read out a text message that the teenager had sent to one of his friends, where he accused her of stalking other boys and irritating the “k*k” out of him.
“He later apologised saying that he only wanted to know why she was not coming to see him.
“At least the decent girls are visiting me. We can’t all be whores hahaha,” the message read.
Cloete also described an incident in 2012 where a neighbour had complimented him on how smart he looked in his Grey College uniform, when he was in Grade 10.
“The accused responded by saying, ‘I am tired of wearing this k*k because I don’t want to be there. My mother wants me to go to school. I would prefer to be in Kimberley or Douglas’. The neighbour, Joe Scholtz, reminded him that he was privileged to attend such a prestigious school.”
He added that when Paul Botha had visited the boy at the hostel, following the murders, to bring him pizza and a drink, he was not his normal self and complained that the older learners did not like him.
Cloete pointed out that the boy was never confronted about his involvement in the crimes.
“Family members and friends remained sympathetic towards him and teachers refrained from punishing him for 23 incidents of inappropriate behaviour at school. It would be easier if he admitted his guilt. He lied when he told his grandmother that he would never shoot Christel.”
He added that the teen had asked about the security cameras and knew that they were not working on the night that the murders were committed on April 6, 2012.
Cloete indicated that the teen had formulated his defence when he said that only his fingerprints would be found on the firearms and told his friend that he would be regarded as a suspect for the murders.
“He was in a state of hyper-arousal when he raced to the police station. He told his aunt that he was driving at 120km/h, while he informed Sonnekus that he was crying.”
Cloete added that two years after the incident the 17-year-old had altered his version to count in his favour where he related that he felt bewildered and scared.
He indicated that Sonnekus was subjective and was brought to the stand in order to paint the teen in a good light.
“The accused realised that he was in big trouble and that his world was collapsing around him. He insisted on viewing the bodies in the mortuary in order to retain his sanity and to bid them goodbye.”
Sonnekus said the boy refused to talk about the crimes or give reasons for the fight that erupted between him and Marthella before her death.
He stated that it was not his duty to determine the guilt of the teenager.
“He had the tendency to lie about the incident and I did not expect him to tell the truth.”
Sonnekus added that he had received instructions from the boy’s attorney, Riaan Bode, not to speak about the crimes when he interviewed the boy.
“It appeared as if the accused used slang or crude language whenever the girls irritated him. He was upset that his friend was visiting some of her friends and did apologise afterwards.”
He added that it was difficult for the teenager to adjust to high school and also acknowledged that he was not the most brilliant of academic learners.
Sonnekus reminded the court that Grey College teacher, John Henry Dykman, did not perceive the teenager to be an aggressive troublemaker.
“These allegations were not tested in court.”
He was of the opinion that the 17-year-old was too young to strategise his defence.
He added that the regret he displayed towards the immense grief of the surviving members of the Steenkamp family, was the starting point of the rehabilitation process.
“During rehabilitation the accused will be forced to accept responsibility and will face further punishment if he does not. He must realise that he is responsible for taking lives and show remorse, in order for restorative justice to take its course.”
Northern Cape High Court Judge President Frans Kgomo indicated that the case could be reopened if the teenager chose to tell the truth and inform the court if he was protecting anyone.
He also said that there were gaps in Sonnekus’s report where the court was not provided with a comprehensive picture.
He indicated that sources that Sonnekus consulted with related that the boy would never harm a fly, yet he had killed three people.
“The accused was emotional and crying when he arrived at Proviand restaurant but yet he was on his cellphone sending messages minutes later. Following the murders, he was continuing with his life, riding his horse. These things were not put into perspective.”
Kgomo also questioned why Sonnekus had never spoken to the boy as to why the services of his previous legal team consisting of Advocate Willem Coetzee and Advocate Sharon Erasmus, were terminated.
He added that the prosecution could have called them to testify about the instructions they had supposedly received from their client regarding the possibility that Deon had raped Marthella, in their application to reopen the case, if it was in dispute.
“The accused said that Deon meant everything to him and that he would never suggest anything of the sort.”
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