Stella murders: 'Nothing can make it worse,' says victim’s father about gruesome details

Ronnie Hough, father of murdered Stella teen Sharnelle Hough (17), says there's nothing that can be said in court in Mmabatho that could make the loss of their daughter any worse than it is – not even the private information about his deceased daughter that's now being sent into the world.

Xander Bylsma (19) is on trial for murdering Sharnelle, his ex-girlfriend, and her best friend, Marna Engelbrecht (16), on May 26 last year in the hostel of Hoërskool Stella.

Wednesday, March 13, was the second day of the trial. Last week Xander's first lawyer recused himself from the case.

"It's not easy sitting there," Ronnie told YOU on Wednesday after the day's proceedings.

The court had heard evidence from the second witness in the case, private investigator Chris Saunders. He’d been the one to fetch Xander from his father Monte's farm and take him to the police station in Vryburg directly after the murders.

In court Saunders maintained that he'd never coerced or coached Xander into a confession, according to Netwerk24's live report.

Xander's advocate, Niven Rai, made several attempts at pulling apart Saunders' testimony. He argued that from the sound recording it's clear Saunders had been intimidating Bylsma for a confession.

"I hadn't known about the voice recording," Ronnie tells us. "But I knew more or less what had been said in the conversation."

Asked whether private information being made public in court was upsetting to him, he answered nothing could make things worse.

"Luckily I'm deaf – I can't always hear everything," he says wryly.

All he wants now is for the law to take its course and the trial to reach a conclusion.

"Nothing we hear now can change the fact that they were murdered."

The trial started on Tuesday with testimony by state pathologist Dr Tromp Els, who performed the autopsies on the girls.

Els testified that Sharnelle’s body showed signs that she'd desperately fought off her attacker and had probably still been alive when she was hanged from the banister in the hostel, Netwerk24 reports.

She'd also been sexually active, he said.

Els told the court Marna was probably murdered first. She'd been strangled with a handbag strap that was found around her neck.

YOU previously reported Louis Hough, Ronnie's brother, the first family member on the scene, had had the same suspicion – that Marna had been murdered first.

Louis had been the one to help cut down Sharnelle's body from the bannister. At the time, Louis told YOU that Marna's body had been icy cold, while Sharnelle's was still warm.

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