19 September 2018


Teen remanded in custody for Stella murders

by: Obakeng Maje   date: 29 May 2018

A former Stella High School pupil is time behind bars and facing murder charges for allegedly killing two of this school’s learners. 
Zander Bylsman (19) was remanded in custody after appearing briefly at the Vryburg Magistrate’s Court in connection with the double murder of female learners Marna Engelbrecht and Sharnelle Hough, aged 16 and 17. Bylsman was arrested after police found two lifeless bodies of the two Grade 11 learners at the school’s hostel on Saturday.
The accused is said to have been in a romantic relationship with one of the victims, but she recently dumped him. While word is that he allegedly wanted the deceased back, she refused his advances.
According to police, the bodies of the pair were discovered by the hostel matron on Saturday. North West police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Amanda Funani said: “Firstly, the matron found the body of the 17-year-old girl hanging from the rails of the staircase in the hostel and she alerted the school management.
“The police were summoned to the crime scene. Upon investigation, they discovered the second body with a string around her neck at the hostel's bathroom. Subsequent to a thorough investigation, a 19-year-old man who is believed to be an ex-boyfriend of one of the two girls was arrested.”
Bylsman’s case was postponed to 6 August 2018 pending more investigations. The formal charges against the accused were not read in court.
Spokesperson for Bokone Bophirima’s Department of Education and Sport Development, Freddy Sepeng said the department is “saddened” by the killings. 
“We send our condolences to the two families. What happened is really unacceptable and we plead with learners to please report to the principal, teachers or even your parents if there are clashes at school because this perhaps could have been avoided.
“So, please try and tell if there is any bullying in the school or anyone threatening you. This is a former learner at the school and it is possible that he knows all the entrances and I think that might be the reason this happened,” Sepeng said. 
He said Stella High School would continue to be used for school camps during recess because this is the first incident that happened there. He further said security at the school has been tightened. The department plans to visit families of the deceased girls.   
North West Provincial police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane, condemned the incident and applauded the police for their swift action that led to the arrest of the suspect.
African National Congress (ANC) in Bokone Bophirima said it was “devastated” by the tragic death of two teenage girls. 
“We urge the Provincial Department of Education and Sport Development and the police to fully investigate this matter to get to the bottom of these actions,” ANC Acting Provincial Secretary, Suzan Dantjie, said.

She added that the ANC applauds the police for their speedy action in arresting the suspect.
The South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) in the province also expressed shock at the murders. SANCO Provincial chairperson, Paul Sebegoe, urged authorities to tighten security at school hostels.
“We condemn in the strongest terms possible these heinous and ghastly acts. [The suspect] should face the wrath of the law if he is found to be responsible for the outrageous murders,” Sebegoe said.
He also urged authorities to provide urgent counselling to all learners staying at the Stella High School hostel.