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Kimberley - The State will seek to prove three murder charges against a 16-year-old boy accused of murdering a Northern Cape family, the Griekwastad Children’s Court heard on Thursday.
This was revealed by prosecutor Hannes Cloete during argument in opposition to the teenager's bail application.
Northern Cape farmer Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christelle, 43, and their daughter Marthella, 14, were shot dead on their farm Naauwhoek on April 6.
At the time, police said a teenage boy was busy in an outside storeroom when he heard shots fired at 6.30pm that day.
He later said he discovered the bodies in the living room and drove to the police station in town to report the killings. Two firearms found on the scene were handed to the police.
Court cases involving children are usually heard in camera, but a News24 application to attend the proceedings was granted by magistrate OS Mazwi, from the neighbouring town of Groblershoop.
He also agreed to allow two reporters from each newspaper present to sit in on the case, on condition they adhere to normal Child Court restrictions and in no way identify the boy, or publish information which could identify him.
Cloete told the court the Director of Public Prosecutions intended charging the boy with three counts of premeditated murder.
He said the offences were schedule six crimes, which, according to the Criminal Procedure Act, required an accused to prove exceptional circumstances existed warranting the granting of bail in the interests of justice.
There should be clear evidence to support these exceptional circumstances, Cloete argued.
The boy’s lawyer Willem Coetzee called two witnesses in support of the bail application.
The first testified that he and his family were looking after the boy.
The witness said he and the boy had an open relationship, but that he did not know the boy’s feelings about the case.
The boy was doing well at school and was in no position to interfere with the State’s case, the witness said. He said it would be good if the boy could keep his life as close to normal by attending school again.
He had a strong support system with his family and at school.
“It’s important that he continues to finish school,” the witness said.
A social worker, with a private practice, testified that he was treating the boy. He said it would be in the boy’s best interest to keep him in a stable environment such as school, and with family support.
The State argued, during cross examination of the first witness, that it would not help anybody to shy away from the truth.
Cloete agreed that the boy would not be able to interfere with State witnesses or evidence, but said the court had an obligation to consider the boy's fellow pupils.
The State submitted that it had a strong case against the boy, but did not give details.
Cloete said there was convincing evidence that the boy murdered the Steenkamp family in cold blood. He submitted that the investigator in the case would testify that nobody’s safety could be guaranteed if the boy was granted bail.
It would not be in the interests of justice for him to get bail, he said.
The application continues. - Sapa
* Comments were inadvertently opened on this story. They have since been closed, and comments deleted. This is the prevent discussion of the identity of the minor accused in the case. - IOL Editor