For Johan Nell, the youngest South African mass murderer, shooting people was like watching a movie.
"When I saw pictures taken after the incident, I felt like I was not there, it felt like someone else had done the shootings," said Nell in written answers to questions posed to him during consultation with psychologist Kobus Truter.
Nell said that he did not deserve a heavy punishment because at the time of the incident he was not himself.
This was while the 18-year-old convicted killer was admitted to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria for mental observation.
His answers were read out in the Mmabatho high court yesterday. Nell has pleaded guilty to four counts of murder, 11 of attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
"I feel bad about it," Nell said.
Truter said Nell, who was a loner, felt like a changed person during his short stint at Weskoppies.
"People trusted him with their valuables, including money. He felt at home there away from the swart gevaar (black threat) and the danger white South Africans faced in Africa," Truter said.
He said Nell believed that pain was a permanent and stable part of life and that pleasure was no longer possible.
"And he displays an erratic pattern of explosive anger intermingled with periods of guilt and shame."
Truter said what broke the camel's back happened at a braai. One of his neighbours, his only friend, said his children had been attacked by black people in Johannesburg.
"Nell felt nauseous after he was told about the incident. He insisted his brother take him home because he could not enjoy the braai."
Truter told the court that the incident depressed Nell. He recommended that Nell should serve between 20 and 25 years in prison under supervision.
Nell went on a shooting spree in the Skierlik informal settlement near Swartruggens, North West, on January 14.
A report by forensic expert Irma Labuschagne said Nell could not remember the shooting. In the 18-page psychological report Nell admitted "it was wrong to kill".
Those killed in cold blood were Enoch Tshepo Motshelanoka, 10, Kegitlho Elizabeth Moiphitlhi, 3 months, her mother Anna, 31, and Sivuyile Banani, 35.