Griquatown killer turns 18 in jailComment on this story
Kimberley - Don Steenkamp, the boy who killed his own father, mother and sister, turned 18 on Friday, after spending the second day of his 20-year sentence behind bars at the Kimberley Prison.
He was sentenced by Northern Cape High Court Judge President Frans Kgomo to an effective 20 years in prison on charges of murder, rape and defeating the ends of justice, earlier this weekend.
Judging from the brutality of the crimes committed and Steenkamp’s lack of remorse, Kgomo indicated that this was the most appropriate sentence.
Steenkamp was sentenced to 60 years (20 years each) for the murders of Deon Steenkamp, 44, Christel, 43, and 14-year-old Marthella, 12 years for the rape of Marthella and four years for defeating the ends of justice. The three were shot dead on their farm Naauwhoek near Griquatown on April 6 2012.
The murders were committed when Steenkamp was 15 years and eight months old.
A court order prevented the media from revealing his identity because he was a minor and was protected under the Child Justice Act. However, this restriction was lifted when he turned 18.
Steenkamp will spend the next three years in the juvenile section of the Kimberley Prison. When he turns 21 he will be transferred to the adult section to serve out the rest of his sentence or until he qualifies for parole.
The 18-year-old will be considered eligible for parole after serving a portion of his sentence, on condition that the parole board of the Department of Correctional Services are satisfied that he has been successfully rehabilitated.
Steenkamp has the right to appeal the sentence and, according to the National Prosecuting Authority, all indications are that he intends to do so.
While the killer’s family has been split between believing in his innocence or guilt, his grandmother, Bettie Steenkamp, 88, has chosen to forgive her grandson.
She has indicated that she will always love him, but has pleaded that he be given the necessary psychiatric and psychological help, so that one day he can make a positive contribution to society.
She also believes that, when he is released from prison, she will no longer be alive.
Deon Steenkamp’s sister, Marianna Smith, said that the family can now move on.
“The investigation team did an excellent job. Based on the evidence presented in court, there was no other suspect. So we have to make peace with the outcome and accept it.
“While the sentence could have been harsher, we commend the judge for showing leniency on the side of the boy when granting him a five-year remission, given the youthfulness of the killer as well as taking into account possible psychological factors could have been at play.
“We hope that during his time in prison, the boy will receive the psychological support that he needs to be rehabilitated so that he can acknowledge the magnitude of his actions and show genuine remorse,” she said.
Looking towards possible parole a Steenkamp family spokesperson added: “Should he ever be considered for parole, the family would like strict conditions to be set and a thorough evaluation of his state of mind to ensure that he poses no risk to society.”
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NOTE FROM IOL: As noted in the bold text in this story, the legal requirement not to name Steenkamp no longer applies.