Catharina Williams and Ann and Willem Makaleni, the parents of the slain De Aar couple. Pictures: Soraya Crowie

Kimberley - The family of Glenwill and Gladys Makaleni, who were brutally stabbed to death in their home together with their 10-year-old son, Gladwill, are struggling to come to terms with their loss.

An 18-year-old teenager, a close neighbour of Glenwill’s ageing parents, who was always in and out of their house, doing odd jobs, was arrested shortly after the murders and appeared in the De Aar Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

“He was like a child to us,” Glenwill’s parents, Willem and Ann Makaleni, said Monday, referring to the accused.

“We knew him from when he was still a baby and we watched him grow up in front of us. He was often in and out of our house and we regarded him as family.”

The bodies of the three victims were discovered in the early hours of Saturday, November 5 by a family member after they had been brutally stabbed to death in their home.

“We don’t understand why any of this has happened but justice must be served,” the devastated couple said after the court sitting.

“We don’t blame the boy’s family - we cannot hold them responsible because they never taught him to kill.”

The Makaleni’s teenage daughter, who was sleeping at her grandparents’ house on the night of the incident, survived the massacre and is now living with her father’s parents.

“She is doing OK. She is coping, but there are still many days when she has terrible nightmares,” her grandparents said.

The daughter has missed her end-of-year examinations at De Aar High School following the incident, but has been told that she has been promoted to the next grade.

The parents pointed out that Glenwill’s brother, who discovered the bodies, was also having a hard time dealing with what happened.

“Even we still can’t comprehend this tragedy. What happened was an exceptionally cruel and unnatural way for our children to die. If you speak to the community, everyone only has good things to say about them. They never deserved to die the way they did,” they said while crying.

Gladys’ mother, Catharina Williams, said her daughter had meant the world to her.

“She was my pillar of strength, she wasn’t just my daughter, she was my friend and was always there for me. Both of them were always there for the family,” Williams said.

She said that the couple were childhood sweethearts and started dating when Gladys was in Grade 11 and Glenwill was in Matric.

“When he went away to college to study, she waited for him and they were married 10 years after they first started dating. They had been married for 15 years - so they had been together for more than 25 years.”

Both sets of grandparents smiled through the tears as they remembered their grandson.

“He was quite a character,” Williams said. “He always acted so grown up.

“This was a close family and their death has left a void in our hearts that will never be replaced.”

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