She clasped her daughter’s picture to her chest, and her muffled sobs turned to cries as she came face to face with the man accused of raping and burning her 16-year-old to death.
“Can you identify items listed on exhibit 59-63,” asked State advocate Carina Coetzee as Shireen de Waal paged through pictures showing her 16-year-old daughter’s pink and grey school bag, earrings and a belly button ring used to identify her charred remains.
“Yes, they are my daughter’s,” de Waal sobbed.
A few metres from her sat the man dubbed the “Sunday rapist” – Johannes Steyn.
He had just pleaded not guilty to 37 charges, including 10 for kidnapping, 11 rapes, 10 sexual assaults, two murder charges, one kidnapping charge and a charge of attempt to commit a sexual offence.
He had confessed to preying on young girls around Joburg, Carletonville, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg and Vereeniging following his arrest last year.
“How can he say he’s not guilty,” de Waal cried out during a break as relatives seated with her – three benches behind Steyn – consoled her.
Steyn is alleged to have accosted young girls between November 2008 and October last year. He would fondle their breasts and force them to perform oral sex on him before raping them.
The youngest of his victims was an 11-year-old Krugersdorp girl.
One of the girls he is charged with kidnapping died after jumping from his moving car. But the 14-year-old’s friend remained in the car and was taken to a secluded area, where she was raped and forced to drink alcohol.
The second to be killed was Louise de Waal, who was kidnapped while walking to school with a friend in October last year.
“That’s Louise de Waal. (Those are) new earrings she wore that morning. She was so excited,” said the friend, fighting back tears as she was shown pictures of the deceased’s belongings.
The 18-year-old friend told the court on Monday how a man in a bakkie had abducted Louise.
“I grabbed Louise, but he said if I don’t let go, he’ll shoot me. He then threw her into the bakkie,” the friend said.
The friend said Louise had gestured to her to run and make a call.
A man at the nearest house had given her a cellphone to call the police.
“My best friend was taken from me. It (the incident) has ruined my life. I won’t forget his face.
“I won’t forget that day at all,” she told the court sitting in the Palmridge Magistrate’s Court in Germiston.
Johannesburg High Court Judge Sita Kolbe ordered that her identity be withheld as she was a minor at the time of the incident.
Also called to testify was Hermanus Mulder, an elderly man who had rented a backroom at Steyn’s Wilropark home in Krugersdorp.
He told the court how he had seen a woman in Steyn’s bakkie on the day of the atrocity.
Steyn had reverse-parked his vehicle so Mulder’s vision of her was obscured.
“I only saw the back of her head. She didn’t sit upright, but went in and got down,” he said.
Police arrived at the property later, and found the pink and grey schoolbag in Steyn’s bakkie.
“Then they said this is the man we are looking for,” an emotional Mulder said, pointing at Steyn. “It’s daai bliksem (that scoundrel).”
With tears in his eyes, the man had to apologise for calling Steyn a “bliksem” when Judge Kolbe called him to order.
The trial continues.