Steenkamps killed to cover rape: judge
Kimberley - There were no tears or any display of emotion as the 17-year-old teenager, accused of killing three members of the Steenkamp family, heard the words “guilty” on the all charges.
However, he hugged and kissed family members as well as his guardians before he was led away to the youth detention section at Kimberley Correctional Centre where he will remain in custody until he returns to court on May 13.
The boy was found guilty of the premeditated murders of Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and their 14-year-old daughter Marthella. He also raped Marthella and was found guilty of defeating the ends of justice in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday.
Their lifeless and bloodied bodies were found with multiple bullet wounds on their farm, Naauwhoek, near Griquatown April 6 2012.
Northern Cape High Court Judge President Frans Kgomo was convinced that not only was the accused responsible for raping Marthella between 12 and 24 hours before her death, but that it was not the first time that she was the victim of sexual abuse.
He attributed the minor’s need to silence her and her parents, as being the most plausible explanation for the murders.
“In my view the minor, the torturer, wanted to have sexual intercourse with the girl. When she refused, she was consequently tortured, raped and murdered to prevent her from reporting it. Her parents, who would bear witness to the rape, had to be eliminated. There would be no reason for Marthella to inform anyone of the sexual activity if a consensual love relationship existed between her and the accused.”
He also said he doubted whether she would have declared her love for the accused before she died, given the violent nature of her death.
Other discrepancies highlighted by Kgomo in the accused’s testimony included how Marthella died, as opposed to how he described her dying “lovingly in his arms”.
“How could the accused be so nauseated by Marthella’s blood that he pushed her away violently while she was reaching out to him in her hour of need,” Kgomo asked.
He added that the suggestion by the former defence team that Deon was responsible for Marthella’s genital injuries, was an attempt to counter the State’s argument that the accused needed to silence the girl and cover up the rape.
Kgomo also described Marthella’s injuries as gruesome and she “fought like a tiger” to defend herself against her assailant.
“I cannot imagine why someone would sadistically torture Marthella.”
Kgomo noted that the rape took place during the school holidays when the innocent teenage girl and the minor were alone on the farm from April 2 to 6 and had ridden horses together.
“No friends had visited the farm during this period.”
Kgomo pointed out that while no semen was present, the slightest forced penetration amounted to rape.
“During his efforts to piece together what really happened in order to enable him to track down the perpetrators, the investigating officer Colonel Dick de Waal asked the minor, in the presence of his guardian, to explain the scratch marks on his neck. He reported that he had fought with Marthella that afternoon but claimed that he could not remember what the fight was about.”
Kgomo was not convinced that the accused had suffered a loss of memory and it should have been fresh in his mind because the fight had taken place earlier that afternoon.
“The minor was unable to explain why his own blood was on his pants. He explained that he had a nosebleed because he had not sustained any cuts or wounds that day.”
Kgomo added that the accused sent the police on a wild goose chase after claiming that the Steenkamp family members were victims of a farm murder.
“By providing false information, the police machinery kicked into gear and the big guns were mobilised when he lied about the farm attack and misled the police into thinking that the abandoned bakkie en route to the farm was a getaway vehicle.”
He found the minor to be a poor witness who was discredited under cross-examination yet he remained strong, confident and assertive throughout his testimony while he showed no emotion.
“He never appeared flushed, nor did he stumble or trip over his words, even under cross-examination.”
Kgomo indicated that the gunman must have been treading on familiar territory and knew the layout of the house.
“It would be unlikely for two attackers to take turns in shooting the deceased.”
He pointed out that the accused’s explanations, including the man who owed Deon money and the former farm worker who threatened that the Steenkamp family would be the first targets should a farm attack be carried out, were all unwarranted.
“The suggestions of the accused that a lone ranger ascended on the farm, killed the occupants of the house with their own firearms but decided to spare the life of the accused while he was inside the house, is nonsensical.
“Why would the intruder take only a knife and a bunch of keys from the house, leaving the safe keys, cash and wallets of the deceased and walk away on foot when two vehicles were parked outside with the keys in the ignitions? The ammunition and the firearms inside the safe would have been rich pickings for any attacker.”
Kgomo also question why the attacker, in the accused’s version, had stolen Deon’s knife ... unless it was studded with diamonds.
“Why, once the mission was accomplished, did the dumb criminal discard the firearms next to the road? If he was confronted by the police or the neighbourhood watch, would he have put his hands in the air and say that he was sorry?”
Kgomo added that the minor never missed a target with a firearm and pointed out that he should have summoned the police and an ambulance to the scene by making use of his cellphone if a prowler was indeed on the loose.
“The police arrived on the scene to find the safe open, with the keys dangling in the keyhole while the television and lights inside the house were switched on.”
He stated that the accused also lied about not hearing Marthella’s “blood curdling screams” when she was tortured and gave conflicting versions as to why he was in the shed when the gunshots went off.
Kgomo dismissed the accused’s version that he had hidden in the shed, ran into the house and returned to the shed before driving 10 kilometres to the police station in the dark at whatever speed. There would not have been sufficient time.
He added that the victims were caught unaware by the accused when they were shot.
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