Hijack liar has ‘zero self-esteem’

2012-12-14 00:00

A MAN from New Germany who lied to the authorities and his family about being hijacked was found guilty of all charges by the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

State prosecutor advocate Neville Loubser asked for a stiff sentence to be meted to Leon Jansen van Rensburg, who pleaded guilty to charges of defeating the ends of justice and perjury. He argued that Van Rensburg wasted police resources that could have been channelled to other, more serious uses. He requested that the state punish Van Rensburg by slapping him with a hefty fine and period of imprisonment of which a portion could be suspended.

Van Rensburg went on the run in October after police established that his hijack claim was false. He had sent an SMS to his 15-year-old daughter saying “Help Hijacked”. After returning home he made a false statement claiming that he was hijacked, blindfolded and kidnapped by three men who threatened to rape his wife and murder his family. He then went on the run and surfaced at a hospital in Cape Town.

Beatrice Coetzee, a clinical psychologist who was called to testify, said she had engaged in three sessions with Van Rensburg between November and December and found him to suffer from adult attention deficit disorder.

She added that during the course of the events, he suffered a mental and psychological breakdown, which was compounded by his strained relationship with his wife, financial stress, anxiety and being a victim of bullying at school. She found his self-esteem to be below zero, and that he had no belief in himself and was lost in a sense of worthlessness. “I found that he coped by lying his way out of situations. The only way he survived was by not resorting to drugs and alcohol.

“He has a lack of identity and is unable to distinguish between what is true and what is not … None of his actions were planned and he was irrational in the extreme, but it is difficult to confirm if he had a psychotic breakdown,” she said.

She noted that he would not be able to cope in prison, and given the correct treatment, he would be a good father and citizen.

However, there was no test or data available to measure the degree of mental breakdown, conceded Coetzee.

Loubser said the offences carried out by Van Rensberg were serious and the state had to send a clear message to society because he had wasted resources on a nationwide manhunt and betrayed the trust of people who inundated social networks with support. “After driving to Underberg he reached a point of reasonableness. This was premeditated and it borders on fraud and misrepresentation. Through his selfish will, he opened up an illegitimate charge,” argued Loubser.

Prior to his arrest, the 52-year-old Van Rensburg was employed as an electrical engineer for a month and lost his job as a result of the current fiasco.

He has two other children aged 23 and 17, and his wife is the sole breadwinner.

Sentencing will take place on January 10 next year.

• ayanda.mdluli@witness.co.za

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