The murders of two teenage girls have crushed the small farming community of Stella in the North West.
An eerie silence filled the air on Friday at Sharnelle Hough and Marna Engelbrecht’s funeral, after pink, blue and purple balloons were released into the air.
Every now and then, the quiet was broken by a stifled sob.
The grade 11 pupils’ bodies were found at Stella High School’s hostel on May, 26. Sharnelle, 17, known as Lalla to her loved ones, and Marna, 16, were best friends.
Xander Bylsma, 19, charged with the killing of the teenagers, also attended the funeral.
Pastors Stephen de Villiers and Dries van Wyk led the service from the Dutch Reformed Church in Vryburg.
Loved ones and schoolmates wrote messages that were published along with the memorial letter to honour the two teens.
“When we looked at you, we saw the epitome of perfection,” one letter in the bundle of tributes read.
“All you gave were smiles and kindness.
“Today we give you to Jesus because He knows how special you were to us.”
Sharnelle‘s mother, Sonja, calls her, among other things, her “Lallapansie” in her message.
“My heart is broken,” she wrote. “My child, you had the most beautiful laughter, the most beautiful eyes and you were a beautiful person in and out.”
“My love, you will never be alone [with Marna] there with you. You will always be happy and safe.”
Marna‘s grandmother, Marieta, writes how grateful she is that Marna and her mother had dinner with her on Thursday. She says she will remember Marna‘s love and smiles.
The memorial was brought to a close with the lyrics of See You Again, a song by Wiz Khalifa with Charlie Puth to actor Paul Walker.
Xander, Sharnelle‘s ex boyfriend and a former Stella pupil, was arrested on Saturday in connection with the murders.
He appeared on two charges of murder earlier this week in Vryburg Magistrate‘s Court and will remain in custody until his next appearance on 6 August.