Home News Griekwastad murders, filming to start

Griekwastad murders, filming to start

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Don, then 15 years old, killed his father, mother and sister in 2012 on their farm Naauwhoek in Griekwastad and was sentenced to an effective 20-year jail term two years after the slaughter, just two days before he turned 18.

Don Steenkamp, who was convicted of killing his father, mother and sister. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A FILM based on the tragic events which saw the Steenkamp family wiped out by their teenage son Don on Easter weekend seven years ago is set to go into production soon.

Don was found guilty of the murder of his father, Deon, his mother, Christel, and his sister, Marthella, as well as rape and defeating the ends of justice in March 2014.

He was sentenced to 60 years’ imprisonment – 20 years each – for the murders.

The film is based on the book “The Griekwastad Murders – The Crime that shook South Africa” by journalist Jacques Steenkamp who followed the trial from start to finish.

The film rights for the book was acquired by Karoo Film Company and is due to be released later this year.

The lead role – that of the detective who had to investigate the bloodbath – will be played by South African-born Arnold Vosloo, who now lives in Los Angeles. He has starred in well-known films such as The Mummy and GI Joe.

Don, then 15 years old, killed his father, mother and sister in 2012 on their farm Naauwhoek in Griekwastad and was sentenced to an effective 20-year jail term two years after the slaughter, just two days before he turned 18.

After it was announced that Vosloo would play the lead role, the author of the book, Steenkamp, reacted on Facebook that he was delighted about this development.

He earlier said he was excited to work alongside the legendary Deon Meyer, one of the founders of the movie company, on the project.

Shooting of the film starts early next month in Hopefield in the Western Cape, although some scenes will be shot in Griekwastad.

An extract from Steenkamp’s book:

Just after dusk on Good Friday, April 6, 2012, the peace and quiet of the small Northern Cape town of Griekwastad was disrupted when a teenage boy sped into town in his father’s Isuzu bakkie and screeched to a halt in front of the town’s nearly deserted police station. It was shortly before 7pm when Don Steenkamp ran into the station’s charge office, covered in blood, to announce that his parents and sister had been brutally shot and killed on the family farm, Naauwhoek. Although the killings were initially thought to be just another farm attack, months later a 16-year-old youth was arrested for the murders.

A few hours later, De Waal, Vermeulen, Don and Andries set off for the scene of the crime. Don’s tent-pegging coach, Bennie Heckroodt, followed them in another vehicle. During the drive, the boy, seated in the back, asked a surprised De Waal what he should do in order to inherit “everything”. In fact, he asked a lot of questions, and at one point even boasted about how fast he had driven his father’s bakkie the night before. From what De Waal had gathered thus far, Deon Steenkamp owned several farms and many livestock, and the estate was worth millions.

At the farm, De Waal asked Don to show him where he had been when the murders took place. He also wanted Don to show him where he had found the bodies and, later, the guns. But all proceedings came to an abrupt halt when the boy’s advocates, Willem Coetzee and Sharon Erasmus, started phoning both De Waal and their client repeatedly, objecting to a minor assisting the police with their inquiry. It took a while for De Waal to explain to Don, Andries and Heckroodt how important it was for them to proceed. Fortunately, the three of them agreed that they should continue, and Don then showed those present where he had been in the barn when he’d heard the gunshots. He also pointed out where he had discovered the bodies and where he had found the firearms.

Don quite confidently related his version of events, and was even willing to pose for photographs at certain “hot spots”. The media had not yet caught up with events at Naauwhoek, and Don’s version was all that was available at the time.

All he told De Waal and his colleagues was that he had been busy in the barn, heard shots and hid, and had then come across the bodies. Shortly afterwards, Marthella had died in his arms. Back at the farmhouse, De Waal retrieved and confiscated another four firearms from Deon Steenkamp’s safe.

Another bloodied T-shirt, navy with some printing on it, was collected from a bedroom. De Waal had noticed the shirt the previous evening. It was sticking out from beneath a discarded towel lying on the floor between the bed and the cupboard. Someone from his team had forgotten to collect it and De Waal ordered that it be entered into evidence now. The bloodied T-shirt was torn and damaged around both sides of the neck. It was clear from the state of the shirt that its wearer had been involved in a struggle.

Once all the evidence had been collected, it was processed and sent to the forensic laboratories for testing. The guns were sent away for ballistic testing to determine if they had been fired and used in the murders. Don was handed over to Andries, who was waiting outside the house. Andries agreed to take care of Don on his farm, Lynput, west of Griekwastad, until Paul Botha, a retired school principal and Deon Steenkamp’s neighbour, who was named in Christel and Deon’s will as Don’s guardian in the event of their deaths, could assume his responsibilities.

Around midday, De Waal returned to the Griekwastad police station, where a number of local and national print and radio journalists had by now gathered. Besides this group, there were also some locals, coloured and white, keeping a close eye on the comings and goings at the police station.

By this time, the provincial police spokesperson, Colonel Hendrik Swart from Kimberley, had issued a brief statement to the press, saying that they weren’t searching for any suspects “at present”.

“We are looking at the available witnesses’ statements and the evidence that was found at the scene,” Swart informed Volksblad.

His words caused a media frenzy. All of a sudden, the supposed farm murders had turned into something even more sinister. However, without the police confirming on the record that they did indeed have a suspect or suspects, all anyone could do was speculate. And speculate they did. Rumours started circulating that Deon Steenkamp had killed his family and spared his son; others alleged that Satanism was involved and that Marthella had done the killing.

One rumour that many people found perfectly plausible was that Don Steenkamp was adopted and had only found out on the day of the murders. Whatever the case, the fact remained that the police weren’t looking for any suspects. The nation would have to hold its collective breath until the investigation was concluded and the police had acted on their findings.

* The Griekwastad Murders by Jacques Steenkamp is published by Zebra Press.