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Kimberley - In seven days, the 16-year-old accused in the massacre of the Steenkamp family will know whether his plea for bail has been successful. After two days of arguments in the Griquastat Magistrate’s Court, a final decision will be made on Monday, September 3.
But at least one of the big mysteries of the horrific murders has been solved. The world finally knows how Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife, Christel, 43, and their daughter, 14-year-old Marthella, died.
The post-mortem results that were presented during the boy’s bail application in the Griquatown Magistrate’s Court show that Deon and his daughter, Marthella, were struck in the head and then shot “execution style”.
The State is opposing bail because it believes that the accused poses a danger to society and that the murder was premeditated and committed in cold blood.
Colonel Dick de Waal, Commander of the SAPS Organised Crime Unit and investigating officer in the case, described how he discovered the lifeless bodies of the three victims in the dining room and television room.
“Deon was lying face down on his stomach while his wife Christel and daughter Marthella lay next to each other, about three metres from his body.”
De Waal added that a similar pattern of injuries were found on both Deon and Marthella who were “severely beaten” and suffered multiple blows to the head.
“The injuries are consistent with a struggle. The scratch marks on the accused’s neck and bloodstains found on his T-shirt indicate that force was applied during the attack. Marthella was shot four times, twice in the lower part of her body and twice in the head in her eye and nose.”
He testified that Deon was shot in his right shoulder, behind his left ear and chest while Christel was shot in the neck and in her back.
De Waal said that ballistic reports revealed that the bigger calibre firearm, a .357 Magnum revolver, was first used to shoot the victims while the .22 rifle was fired last. There was “less blood from the smaller calibre wounds”.
He pointed out that due to the nature of injuries, it was impossible for any of the victims to have been responsible for the killings.
“It was an execution type style of attack where the killer wanted them dead at all costs. All the deceased had bullet wounds to the head.”
He dismissed the possibility of a farm or revenge attack, as the rest of the house was not disturbed.
“There were laptops, cellphones, a television, DVD players and clothing inside the house, yet nothing was stolen. The four, loaded high calibre firearms and cash was not taken from the safe.
“Similarly three possible getaway vehicles with the keys inside the ignition and tools in the shed were untouched.”
He highlighted the fact that perpetrators in a farm attack would never enter a premises unarmed.
State Advocate from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Hannes Cloete, stated that according to expert evidence, the deceased were in all probability “already dead” when they were shot with the .22 rifle.
He added that the head trauma injuries were only discovered during the autopsy when Marthella’s hair was shaved, because her head was covered in blood.
Cloete pointed out that according to cellphone records and witness statements, the accused had 20 minutes in which to commit the crime. “The most significant aspect is that despite the accused being afforded an opportunity, he has failed to pronounce his innocence in the crime either by way of evidence, an affidavit or statement.”
He added that the school governing body of the school that he attends in Bloemfontein, had lodged a complaint with the investigating officer over the boy’s presence at the school.
De Waal presented a 22-page affidavit and pictures containing “damning evidence” against the accused to the court.
He said more than 64 statements had been obtained from witnesses.
He indicated that the two firearms that were found on the scene positively linked him to the murder.
“As it is a high-profile case, 72 DNA and fingerprint samples instead of three, were collected from the house as well as on the safe and firearms. Forensic experts only found DNA belonging to the accused and the three deceased family members at the scene.”
A dark blue T-shirt belonging to the accused’s was found covered in Marthella’s blood and was torn on both sides of the neck.
He stated that judging from the impact of the blood splatters, Marthella was repeatedly attacked.
“Two of his T-shirts contained residue from the discharge of a firearm. A considerable amount of force was needed to tear the relatively new blue T-shirt that is made of a strong material, which indicates that there was a struggle.”
Several tests were also done to determine if the accused had handled or fired a weapon, including nail scrapes.
The accused will be kept at a facility in Kimberley, until Monday, September 3, when Groblershoop magistrate OS Maswi will deliver judgment on the bail hearing.
The case will later be referred to the Northern Cape High Court in Kimberley.
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