The 17-year-old Griquatown rapist and murderer hugs Bettie Steenkamp, 88, the mother of Deon. Picture: Danie Van der Lith

Kimberley - There were tears of relief, as well as sadness when the 17-year-old Griquatown rapist and murderer hugged family members and guardians before being led away to the cells on Wednesday.

He was sentenced to 60 years (20 years each) for the murders of Deon Steenkamp, 44, Christel, 43, and 14-year-old Marthella, 12 years for the rape of Marthella and four years for defeating the ends of justice.

The sentences will run concurrently and the accused will spend an effective 20 years in prison.

Bettie Steenkamp, 88, the mother of Deon, stated that if the boy was guilty, it was appropriate that he should spend the next 20 years in jail.

She, however, related that she would always love the killer.

“I don’t think that he realises what he did.”

Another relative, speaking on behalf of the Steenkamp family, said that they were all relieved that the case had reached finality.

“The investigation team did an excellent job. Based on the evidence presented in court, there was no other suspect. So we have to make peace with the outcome and accept it.

“While the sentence could have been harsher, we commend the judge for showing leniency on the side of the boy when granting him a five-year remission, given the youthfulness of the killer as well as taking into account possible psychological factors could have been at play.

“We hope that during his time in prison, the boy will receive the psychological support that he needs to be rehabilitated so that he can acknowledge the magnitude of his actions and show genuine remorse.

“Should he ever be considered for parole, the family would like strict conditions to be set and a thorough evaluation of his state of mind to ensure that he poses no risk to society.”

The prosecuting team from the National Prosecuting Authority in Northern Cape welcomed the sentence.

Provincial NPA spokeswoman, Mashudu Malabi, was of the view that the sentence sent a strong message that criminality, irrespective of who the perpetrator was, would not be tolerated.

She added that the boy had the right to appeal the conviction and the sentence.

“All indications are that he will exercise his right to appeal. We applaud advocates Hannes Cloete and Quinton Hollander on a job well done.”

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