Triple murder teen ‘fooled everyone’
The prosecution believes that the 17-year-old in the Griquatown triple-murder trial fooled everyone, including the police and social workers, by lying to them and manipulating them.
The State on Thursday pointed out a “clear pattern of lying” to the Northern Cape High Court.
The accused was found guilty of the murders of Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and their daughter, Marthella, 14, the rape of Marthella and defeating the ends of justice.
State Advocate Hannes Cloete said that the accused had misled the court in order to escape retribution for the cold-blooded killings, which were aimed at covering up the rape of Marthella.
He stated that the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Re-integration of Offenders (Nicro) social worker was over-sympathetic towards the accused and the report compiled was manipulated by the accused.
“The Nicro social worker’s report is subjective, not scientific at all and cannot assist the court in arriving at a just decision. The report is so sympathetic towards the accused that it is blind to the fact that he poses a risk to society. I am anxious that it does not reflect the premeditated and harsh manner in which the family members were killed.”
Cloete pointed out that the accused was responsible for creating his own adverse circumstances.
“Yet the report compliments him for his resilience.”
He added that the accused had also made use of the services of a social worker, Francois Kros, who was related to the boy’s guardian.
Cloete highlighted identical similarities in the so-called independent reports compiled by Nicro as well as the Department of Correctional Services’ social workers, such as that he was not involved in the occult, that he had not had sexual relations with his girlfriends and that he knew how much cash was inside the Steenkamps’ home.
He pointed out that the accused could have engaged in deviant behaviour in the classrooms of teachers who did not discipline him out of compassion.
“He was observed as being more arrogant, full of himself and more assertive by his teachers.”
While Nicro social worker Marita Van Kraayenburg, was not convinced of the innocence of the accused, she was unable to come to the conclusion that the accused had lied or had manipulated her.
Van Kraayenburg pointed out that a person who had killed someone, was still capable of missing that person.
“The accused did become emotional when we spoke about the loss of important role models in his life.”
She indicated that they investigated the possibility of occult influences as well as religious fanaticism, but did not find anything.
Van Kraayenburg was concerned that the accused had not been referred for counselling after displaying strange behaviour in the classroom, where he wandered out of the classroom without permission or dropped his pants to tuck his shirt in, and teachers had not disciplined him out of compassion.
“Something was wrong and he could be manifesting a pattern of trauma by engaging in abnormal behaviour.”
She added that she had mentioned to the investigating officer, in a joking manner, during a consultation that it was not necessary to handcuff the accused.
Van Kraayenburg stated that the accused had the ability to overcome an extremely traumatic event.
“Whereas some might end up in an institute for depression or may no longer be able to function, the accused is coping well.”
Nicro forensic social worker, Mariëtte Joubert, believed that an appeal would not count in the favour of the accused.
“His defence mechanisms must to be broken down in order for him to accept responsibility for his actions.”
Should he appeal, the case will be heard before a full bench at the Supreme Court of Appeal and can also be referred to the Constitutional Court.
Joubert said she had advised the accused to be honest with the court by revealing what motivated him to commit the crimes, so that the court could identify compelling circumstances that could count in his favour.
She recommended a sentence of direct imprisonment although she felt that he should not be given the maximum sentence of 25 years.
“At some point he will be released on parole or after serving his full sentence and will have to be reintegrated back into society. Restorative justice is only applicable after the accused has appeared before the parole board, after completing rehabilitation and the family of the victims have agreed to accept his remorse.”
She believed that the accused did express emotion although she believed it was a trait of Grey College (the school the boy attended) learners not to cry in public.
Joubert added that she also investigated the possibility that the accused had been responsible for the previous genital injuries that were sustained by Marthella.
“Usually a rape victim would display changes in her behaviour, which were not apparent before her death. As an outspoken person, she would not have allowed the abuse to continue for very long. I also considered whether the accused was a victim of sexual abuse as these victims often act out what has been done to them on others.”
She pointed to the violent manner in which the murders were committed where she almost fainted due to the graphic images.
“However, we could not detect any criminal thinking patterns of the accused.”
She indicated that the accused had not thought about calling the police immediately as he did not have the telephone numbers of the Griquatown police station on his cellphone.
“He was living in Bloemfontein most of the time. He also thought that it would be faster for him to drive to the police station.”
Joubert said the family members who acknowledged the guilt of the accused, were still prepared to support him, if he confessed to the court.
Cloete believed that should the accused admit guilt, he risked losing his support network of people who were clinging to the notion that he was innocent.
The person who regards herself as the second mother to the Griquatown triple-murder accused, broke down on more than one occasion while testifying in court on Thursday.
The case continues on Friday before Northern Cape High Court Judge President Frans Kgomo.
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