Heartbroken Stella dad: ‘Thank you for the support’

With the news her alleged killer won’t be released on bail, Stella murder victim Marna Engelbrecht’s father has thanked friends and family for their support.

“It was a difficult day,” was all Stefaans Engelbrecht was prepared to say after Xander Bylsma (19), the alleged murderer, appeared in the magistrates’ court in Vryburg, North West.

Xander is being charged with two counts of murder following the deaths of Marna (16) and Sharnelle Hough (17). Their bodies were found on 26 May in the girls’ hostel of Hoërskool Stella. Sharnelle and Xander had been in a relationship which ended about a month before. Marna was Xander’s second cousin.

In a recent exclusive interview Stefaans told YOU he planned to attend every one of Xander’s court appearances.

He’s stuck to his word and at yesterday’s appearance he sat in the front row, right behind the accused. Next to Stefaans sat Sharnelle’s father, Ronnie Hough.

It was Xander’s second court appearance and friends, family and supporters of the victims wore T-shirts with images of Marna and Sharnelle, who were best friends. Some waved little flags with pictures of the teenage girls.

After Xander’s case was postponed to next month Stefaans took to Facebook to thank supporters.

“I don’t think you realise what this means to us! Love you all!” he wrote.

For him the day had started like any other, even though he’s heartbroken.

“I’m okay, thanks,” he said. But on Facebook he posted, “Daddy’s heart is in pain! I miss you, Marna!”

He’s still finding it too difficult to talk about his “Marna Mouse” and Sharnelle’s deaths. During his interview with YOU he said he was still struggling to accept his daughter and her friend’s murders.

“It feels so unreal. I was furious. I’m still furious. This isn’t supposed to happen to your child.

“For a parent to lose a child is another story. When she was with me she was safe, but there it is . . . it was out of my hands.”