South Africa: Stella Hostel Murders - Xander Bylsma Found Guilty of Strangling Ex and Her Friend

18 February 2020

Xander Bylsma was found guilty on two counts of murder in the Mmabatho High Court on Monday.

The 20-year-old Bylsma's court appearance follows an incident in which two girls - Marna Engelbrecht, 17, and Sharnelle Hough, 16 - were killed on Saturday, May 26, 2018.

Engelbrecht's and Hough's lifeless bodies were found at the hostel at Hoërskool Stella in North West.

Hough's body was hanging from a banister while Engelbrecht's body was found in a bathroom. He strangled the girls and tried to make their deaths look like suicide.

Shortly after the girls' bodies were found, Bylsma confessed to a private detective, Chris Saunders, after which he handed himself in at the Vryburg police station and was arrested. He'd been in custody since.

News24 earlier reported that Bylsma "cracked from frustration" when he confessed to murdering Hough, who was his ex-girlfriend, and Engelbrecht.

Bylsma testified that he was getting tired, owing to drunkenness, nausea and stress, and gave Saunders "the answers he was looking for".

The court rejected his version of events in totality.

The date of the sentencing is not known as yet and will be determined by court.

The police commissioner of North West, Lieutenant General Sello Kwena, welcomed the ruling.

Kwena congratulated the investigating officer for the sterling job he did in investigating the case. He said police will continue to work hard to ensure a successful prosecution.


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