They were known as the "Steyn gang". First they killed three people, reportedly members of a church from which they had broken away, in some kind of revenge killing spree. In the years that followed, seven other people would be killed, likely all for financial reasons, at the hands of the accused.
This week, Le Roux Steyn, one of five people accused of the killings, reportedly entered a plea bargain with the state and pleaded guilty to 18 counts, including murder, racketeering and robbery, TimesLive reported.
Le Roux's mother, Marinda, also pleaded guilty. The case against his sister, Marcel, Zak Valentine and Cecilia Steyn (no relation to the others) will reportedly continue in October.
Marinda Steyn received 11 life sentences for the murder charges and a life sentence for racketeering, TimesLive reported. She also received 115 years for a string of other charges related to the crimes, including robbery and fraud.
A sixth man believed to be involved in the murders turned state witness and is serving 20 years behind bars.
West Rand-based publication, Window News put together this timeline of the murders:
• JULY 2012: Natacha Burger (31)
and her neighbour Joy Boonzaier (68).
• AUGUST 2012: Pastor Reg Bendixen (75).
• OCTOBER 2012: Mikayla Valentine (25).
• NOVEMBER 2015: Peter (52) en Joan Meyer (48).
• DECEMBER 2015: Jarod Jackson (44).
• JANUARY 2016: Glen McGregor (57).
• MAY 2016: Anthony Scholefield (64).
• MAY 2016: Kevin McAlpine (29).
According to the Krugersdorp News, the accused committed the 11 murders between 2012 and 2016, and their victims' ages ranged from 25–75. It was initially thought that they had only killed three people – Hanle Lategan, Kevin McAlpine and Anthony Scholefield. But later, it emerged that they had also killed Peter and Joan Meyer, Glen McGregor and Jarod Jackson.
And by December 2017, they had been charged with four more murders – Mikayla Zalentine (Zak Valentine's wife), Natacha Burger, Joyce Boonzaaier and Pastor Reginald Bendixen, according to the Krugersdorp News.
Window News reported that Zak Valentine faked his own death after the murder of his wife in 2012, and went into hiding in the Free State. A church group reportedly took him in under his new, false identity.
Cecilia and Marinda were also reportedly arrested in connection with the faking of Zak's death, having already been linked to the first three murders, along with Marinda's children, Le Roux and Marcel.
An accomplice of the gang, John Barnard, reportedly confessed and turned state witness. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in December 2016.
According to the Sunday Times, the gang lured professionals who they thought could help them access money, pretending to be prospective clients. There appeared to be a religious element to the murders – killers were reportedly all marked with a tattoo that said "Electus per Deus" – "elected by God" in Latin. It was also thought that the gang committed the crimes as some kind of occult ritual.
But the investigating officer, Captain Ben Booysen told the Sunday Times that the accused appeared to be motivated by money alone.
"While the killings were violent, there was no ritualistic element to them," he reportedly said.
According to the report, Barnard, who turned state witness, testified that the Meyer couple, who owned a printing shop in Krugersdorp where the witness worked, were targeted by the gang as they believed they had millions in cash at their house. Valentine reportedly "lost it" when this turned out not to be true, and he stabbed the pair to death.
After this, the plan was hatched to fake Valentine's death so that the gang could claim a life insurance payout, of which Cecilia would be the sole beneficiary. Valentine, Le Roux and Barnard then befriended Jackson who lived in their street, inviting him on a trip to the Free State. The three reportedly strangled Jackson while en route to their destination, put him in the driver's seat and set the car on fire. They then tried to claim that Jackson was Valentine, to apply for the life insurance payout.
But the insurance company was not convinced, and refused to pay out.
And so in January 2016, the gang reportedly made an appointment to see McGregor, a tax consultant. During the appointment, they forced him to transfer money to Marinda's account before shooting him in the stomach, the Sunday Times reported.
This is how Scholefield and McAlpine, insurance brokers, and Lategan, the estate agent, were also reportedly killed.
The other three murders, that of Boonzaier, Burger and Bendixen were thought to be linked to a rivalry between two factions of the Overcomers Through Christ church. These murders happened in 2012.
The accused reportedly broke away from the church. According to a report in The Star at the time, it seemed as if members of the church were being systematically murdered. Ria Grunewald, a member of the church, told reporters that members of the church had been targeted by petrol bombs before the three murders, and there had been threats of more murders.
For now, it is not clear if, or how, these three murders are linked to the others. But The South African.com reported that the church members might have been killed in a revenge plot against Grunewald and fellow members of the church, of which Cecilia Steyn was the mastermind.
When Mikayla Valentine did not support the murders of the church members, she was reportedly hacked to death, setting in motion the chain of events that would ultimately lead to the other deaths.
The case continues on October 8.