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“I am a monster and I want to stop.” Highly emotional and crying out for forgiveness, alleged “Sunday rapist” Johannes Steyn appeared before Krugersdorp magistrate Sure Janse van Vuuren in October, telling her he wanted to “come clean before the Lord”.
He had also called his wife, mother-in-law and a priest to ask for forgiveness.
But when he took the stand in a trial-within-a-trial on Thursday, to find out if his confession had been made voluntarily, Steyn said the “forgiveness” he sought was not for murdering schoolgirl Louise de Waal but for cheating on his wife with prostitutes and for his addiction to pornography.
“Did you tell the magistrate that you wanted to come clean before the Lord… clean up your heart,” asked State advocate Carina Coetzee in the Johannesburg High Court.
Steyn said: “That’s correct.”
“Did you say you were sorry that you were a monster and you want to stop,” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
But the forgiveness he sought was not for preying on the teenage girls he is alleged to have kidnapped, sexually molested and raped. “I knew that going to church regularly doesn’t make me a true Christian. I wanted forgiveness because I cheated on my wife and for being addicted to porn. I wanted to come clean before God,” he said.
He had run off to Margate in KwaZulu-Natal after arriving home from fetching his son at school only to find police cars parked in his yard, he said.
The sight of police in his yard had brought back memories of a previous conviction and he did not want to get arrested in front of his son. Driving past his home, he had then dropped his son at a friend’s house before fleeing.
A call from his brother had led him to hand himself over at the Margate police station. His brother had told him there was an armed task team searching for him and they would not hesitate to shoot.
When task team officers arrived at the station, they had intimidated him in a way that later made him confess to the crimes. One “big officer” had asked: “Why didn’t you run further? I haven’t had a shooting exercise in a while,” Steyn told the court.
He had also been taken through a room with a table full of firearms to instil fear in him. Then on arrival in Krugersdorp, officers had played with his emotions, telling him to think about his wife and young child.
“Take the plunge, this is the easy way out for you. Your wife and child will be exposed in the media, so let’s kill this thing … keep it quiet,” the officers told him.
Police had convinced him to make a confession and plead guilty, saying the murder of 14-year-old Pretoria girl Lazanne Farmer would “go away”.
With that case not carrying much weight, Steyn would serve only a few years in jail.
“I kept asking myself am I doing the right thing or not? Should I go on or not? I kept thinking about my wife and child … I was hesitant,” he said.
Eventually, he had confessed, thinking “there’s no way out”
But Coetzee asked him how he could have gone into so much detail about the crimes in his statements as police who arrested him told the court on Wednesday that they ha known nothing about his link to Lazanne’s murder.
Steyn said he had used media reports and what his wife had told him about the “Sunday rapist” to beef up his statement.
“Why would you do that?” asked Judge Sita Kolbe.
“To make my statement full,” he said.
When asked if he was threatened into making a statement, Steyn said: “Not threatened, not assaulted, but intimidated.”
But his bid to get the confession, which he said had been made under duress, thrown out failed. Judge Sita Kolbe admitted the confession as evidence.
Outside court, Louise de Waal’s mother spoke of the lonely nights she experienced.
“When I go home alone at the end of the day, that’s when it hits me,” said Shireen.