A pig’s head and stolen rings: a meticulous murder
Marcel Steyn says she was 14 when the woman she ‘idolised’ roped her into a spate of 'Satanic' Krugersdorp slayings
The planning was meticulous – and for 11 murders to be carried out over a four-year period in the small town of Krugersdorp, it had to be.
Car licence plates were stolen and put on to the alleged murderers’ cars to hide their identities. The murder weapons were bought by different people from hardware stores, and they were disposed of after every slaying. No weapon was used twice.
Cold-blooded murders were made to look like robberies, including stealing – and then throwing away – jewellery belonging to one of the victims.
At one point, even a pig’s head was brought into a flat. The decapitated carcass was stabbed and hit with a hammer for killing practice.
This was the chilling testimony of 21-year-old Marcel Steyn in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday as she recounted under cross-examination her role in a spate of murders that rocked Krugersdorp between 2012 and 2016.
Marcel is the youngest of the three people standing trial on 32 counts, including murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, fraud and intimidation. She, along with Cecilia Steyn, 37, and Zak Valentine, 33, has pleaded not guilty to the crimes, even though at least two of their cohort have already been sent to prison.
Marcel’s brother, Le Roux Steyn, entered into a plea bargain with the state in 2018 and was given an effective 25-year sentence. Marcel’s mother, Marinda Steyn, 51, has already been sentenced to 11 life terms for the killing spree.
They were all part of Electus Per Deus, a group that viewed themselves as “chosen by God”.
On Tuesday, Marcel said she was just 14 when she became intimately involved in planning murders, all at the behest of her mother, Marinda, and Cecilia, the woman she “idolised”.
She painted Cecilia as the mastermind behind the murders, who would be “elated” when a plan to kill someone had been successfully executed. It was Cecilia, she said, who gave out instructions about who should be murdered and how. According to Marcel, a pig’s head was once used at Cecilia’s flat to demonstrate how they should kill their victims.
“Cecilia had us stab on it and hit it with a hammer,” she said.
Marcel testified that she had a complicated relationship with Cecilia. She said she “idolised” her, even though the relationship between the pair varied.
“At times she would be my confidant. At other times she would be ridiculing me about the way I was doing things,” she said.
Marcel informed the court that the group had used knives, hammers and other weapons to carry out the murders. After each murder, the weapon would be thrown away.
“Different people [in the group] would buy the weapons at a hardware store. We would discard them after each murder,” she said.
Marcel said they would use false number plates on the cars they used for the executions.
“My brother [Le Roux] would take a walk and remove number plates from cars. It was Cecilia’s idea to use false number plates,” she said.
Marcel told the court that while she was involved in the planning of the murders, she had not killed anyone.
During her testimony on Monday, she said she was deeply sorry to the families of the people whose deaths she had been involved in.
On Tuesday, Marcel said it was Cecilia who had come up with the idea to kill Zak’s wife, Mikeila Valentine, all because the woman did not want to be part of the group anymore.
“Cecilia came up with a plan to kill Mikeila. Zak had told Cecilia that Mikeila did not want to be part of the group anymore,” she said.
The murder happened at Mikeila’s Ruimsig home.
“We left with her tablet and wedding ring to make it look like it had been a break-in. On our way to Cecilia’s flat we threw it [the ring] out the window,” Marcel said.
She said Cecilia was happy they had succeeded in killing Mikeila.
“Cecilia was satisfied Mikeila’s murder was executed successfully,” she testified.
She said she had decided to tell the truth about her involvement in the murders after discovering Cecilia was not the person she had made herself out to be.
“I thought she was a Christian and was close to Jesus. I decided to expose her so she does not do this again,” she said.
Earlier during her cross-examination, Marcel told the court she was scared to leave the group because she knew she would be killed, just like Mikeila.
“I was sure that they would kill me because they threatened my brother several times and they killed Mikeila. I would be no different,” Marcel said.
She said she believed Cecilia had brainwashed her.
“We followed Cecilia’s instructions with regard to everything. We consulted her. All of us idolised her and placed a lot of value on her,” Marcel said in response to the court’s question on who had brainwashed her.
Cecilia’s lawyer, Andre Coetzee, said she would deny any involvement in planning or giving instructions in the murders.
The trial is set to continue next Thursday.