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SA woman guilty of graveyard murder

21 November 2011, 17:13

Virginia - A Free State woman was convicted on Monday of being part of an occult murder in Welkom earlier this year.

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Albert Kruger, found Chane van Heerden, 20, guilty of murder, robbery, and of dismembering Michael van Eck's body in a graveyard in April.

Van Heerden pleaded guilty to all the charges. Her lawyer Leona Smit read out the plea before Kruger convicted her.

Van Heerden and Maartens van der Merwe, 24, have been charged with luring Van Eck, 23, to the Welkom cemetery where he was killed and dismembered.

Human victim

In her plea, Van Heerden said she and Van der Merwe had been in a relationship.

They had studied occult literature and practised their own rituals.

She said Van der Merwe had suggested that they tackle something more challenging.

"We then decided to look for a human victim."

Van Heerden acknowledged that she met Van Eck on the internet chat room 2go, and that they agreed to meet at the Welkom graveyard at 21:00 on Saturday, April 2.

She and Van der Merwe agreed that he would stab and kill Van Eck and that she would butcher his body.

Van Heerden said that during the struggle, Van der Merwe battled to overpower Van Eck. She helped by stabbing him in the back.

Removed victim’s eyes

After Van Eck was killed, Van Heerden removed his head. She and Van der Merwe each removed a hand, a foot and an arm.

The pair dug a shallow grave with spoons and knives.

Van Heerden said she removed Van Eck's eyes, ears and facial skin the next day and placed these in the freezer.

When the police contacted her several days later, she immediately confessed and gave her co-operation.

Van Heerden told the court she acknowledged that her acts were wrong.


Some of Van Eck's remains were found in the shallow grave at the cemetery, while others were found in the couple's garden.

On Monday, the court separated the trials of Van Heerden and Van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe's lawyer Sunette Kruger told the court he would get further psychiatric evaluation before a plea would be entered.

Van der Merwe was apparently diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001, at the age of 14. He was apparently on medication.

He was referred for 30-days of psychiatric evaluation during an initial court appearance.

The court adjourned to 14:00 on Monday for Van Heerden’s sentencing procedures to start.


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