'I am working for the public, not the money': Cop who bust Krugersdorp serial killers

Investigating officer Captain Ben Booysen at the block of flats in Krugersdorp where neighbours Cecilia and Marinda Steyn plotted with family and friends to murder 11 people.
Investigating officer Captain Ben Booysen at the block of flats in Krugersdorp where neighbours Cecilia and Marinda Steyn plotted with family and friends to murder 11 people.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/TimesLIVE

Captain Ben Booysen believes in two things: God and justice.

When the senior investigating officer was assigned to solve the now infamous “Krugersdorp killings”, the only thing he had on his mind was: "I am not stopping until I see the culprits behind bars."

The broad-shouldered police officer, whose firm handshake immediately reveals his confidence, was assigned to join forces with West Rand police in 2016 to solve the serial murders which left a shocked community fearing for their safety.

For Booysen, it was the first case where he had to deal with such a vast number of victims in his 40 years of police service.

Every lead, tip-off and witness led Booysen further down the trail of destruction in which 11 people were brutally murdered between 2012 and 2016 by a group calling themselves Electus Per Deus or "Chosen by God".

Booysen relied on continuous questioning of possible witnesses to cement his investigation. It resulted in long hours and sleepless nights, but the end goal was clear: "justice must prevail".

"It was a process. You can't decide that this lead is good and this one is bad, so you have to follow all of them to have success in such cases. Even if you had a lot, you need to pretend that you don't have anything," he said.

With few leads and limited information, at one stage Booysen realised he had become stuck. With nowhere else to turn, he began investigating other cases linked to the occult from 2012, hoping they would somehow relate to his primary investigation.

Determined to solve the case, Booysen decided not to take leave for two years, but it took a toll on his health.

"Today we don't have dedicated police officers who are willing to go the extra mile. I am one of the old dogs who believe when you've started something, you have to finish it.

"I got sick and was booked off, but I never stopped working. I eventually ended up in hospital with an enlarged heart."

This prevented him from doing something he loves - going to gym.

He finally arrested his prime suspects - a group of outwardly normal neighbours and friends.

Cecilia Steyn was a mother of two and a policeman's wife - and the ringleader.

Marinda Steyn was a schoolteacher, who enticed her teenagers Le Roux and Marcel into joining her in her lust to kill.

Zak Valentine was an insurance broker who agreed to his own wife being killed when she wanted to break away.

John Barnard, a friend of Marinda's, confessed to playing a role in the last seven murders committed by the group.

The cultists had targeted the members of a Krugersdorp church group after Cecilia had a fallout with the leader of the group, Ria Grunewald. Cecilia began taking revenge on Grunewald's followers, first with threats, then by ordering their murders.

When the group ran out of money, they then began targeting victims for money.

A pivotal point was when Valentine tried to fake his own death in an insurance scam - for a life policy which Cecilia attempted to claim.

Keep knocking on doors: Captain Ben Booysen asked questions, then asked again, as he worked to solve a string of Krugersdorp murders.
Keep knocking on doors: Captain Ben Booysen asked questions, then asked again, as he worked to solve a string of Krugersdorp murders.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/TimesLIVE

In the lead-up to the criminal trial, Booysen said that in order to "bulk up" the investigation, he spent most of his time with state prosecutor Gerrit Roberts SC and his colleague, Paul Schutte.

The three drove across the country to find and interview witnesses who could help put together the remaining pieces of the puzzle.

"You work extremely hard and if you see results, then you are proud of yourself."

Booysen believes that he may never have solved the case without his faith in God.

"I am no super cop, I had the guidance of God. God opened doors which normally would not have opened and helped me throughout my investigation.

"... I am thankful that God guided me and the two advocates in the investigation."

He finds comfort in knowing that the families of the numerous victims will find closure when the now-convicted killers are sentenced, with the proceedings beginning this week.

"I am working for the public and not the money, because the money is very little.

"If I look back, I will do it again."

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