Farmer tells court of burning bodies

2011-12-09 20:23

Pretoria - He was "beside himself" when he decided to burn the bodies of the two suspected poachers his teenage son had shot on their farm, a North West game farmer told the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

Douw de Beer, 51, and his son Dyllan, 19, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Morris Morua, 36, and Zacharia Leso, 35, from Ramokokastad on their farm Deo Gloria, near Brits, on April 11 2004.

In his plea explanation, De Beer jun admitted shooting the men, but said he had been acting in self defence because they had been shooting at him.

His father admitted defeating the ends of justice by burning the bodies.

Both have denied stealing Morua's cellphone.

A tearful De Beer sen testified that his son, who had been a Grade 11 pupil at the time, went to shoot an impala that afternoon, but returned home several hours later in a shocked state.

His son said there had been poachers on the farm who had fired shots at him and that he had returned fire.

The two of them jumped into a bakkie and rushed to the scene.

"I could at that stage see my child was in a state of shock. He was trembling so much he could not hold the rifle," said De Beer sen.

"He was sobbing and could not really talk to me. I realised something was terribly wrong," he said.

At the fence dividing the De Beer land from a trust area next door, he found four aggressive dogs and a man lying dead in the fire break.

"I had a huge fright. I was terribly upset and could not believe what I was seeing.

"... I felt his neck to feel for a pulse, but I immediately realised the person was dead.

"... Dyllan started sobbing again. He said 'dad, this is not the person I shot'.


"I was totally confused. Here a man was lying dead in front of me and Dyllan said he didn't shoot him.

"... I started walking down the fence and came across another person about 30m further on.

"He was lying on his stomach and he had been wearing brown boots and a camouflage uniform.

"I was beside myself. I did not know what to do... A million things went through my mind.

"I decided I had to clean up," he said.

De Beer sen fired several shots at the dogs, gathered shells and other exhibits at the scene and loaded the bodies onto the back of his bakkie.

After dropping his son at home, he burnt the bodies on a stack of wood.

The first time he fully realised what had happened was when his son spoke to him in the kitchen later that night.

"I realised my emotions had taken control and came to the conclusion that my son had been attacked when he went hunting.

"I thanked God that my son was alive and had not been shot.

"I realised I should have phoned the police because all the evidence was there.

"I also realised it was too late. I did what I did. I was very angry with myself.

"I later heard that one of the men had two children.

"I was truly sorry about what had happened, but it had already been done," he said.

The trial was postponed to April 9.

  • jruppersberg - 2011-12-09 20:43

    Good! Another poacher bites the dust. Let this be a lesson to all the poachers of SA. Mess with our wildlife and our teenagers will sort you out! Brilliant!

      justmpho - 2011-12-09 21:18

      seriously, are u happy about this. 2 human beings were killed and burned to ashes and all u can say is brilliant??? remember, just because they are black it doesnt mean they are not human beings, fool!!!!

      Ruppersberg - 2011-12-09 21:27

      justmpho. Did I say anything about them being black?? And then you call me a fool...

      Ruppersberg - 2011-12-09 21:37

      And yes justmpho, I'm very happy about this. Our wildlife is being destroyed to the point of extinction and every poacher, black or white, should pay the price.

      Sharkshoot - 2011-12-09 21:50

      The difference between a civilised human being and a murdering scum is that at least this human being has expressed remorse. The typical murder suspect in South African trials either giggles or shows no remorse at all.

      Jayen - 2011-12-22 14:56

      I just love how justmpho, made these poachers black... LOL what an idiot.. too quick to pull the race card! Jack @ss

  • robbieyahu - 2011-12-09 21:24

    all i can say is to quote einstein ... whilst there are slaughterhouses .. there will be wars ... "poaching" means to go and kill animals .... going out to shoot an impala ...means to kill an impala ....???? seems like the same thing to me .... lets all stop this killing !!!!

      Geronimo - 2011-12-09 21:57

      Robbie, poaching means to kill or take animals *illegally*. You can't "poach" on your own land. According to the law, what's on your land belongs to you. It is sad that people lost their lives, and there is something just a little fishy about De Beer's testimony. However, none of this would have happened if the two individuals had not been trespassing with intent to poach in the first place.

      Geronimo - 2011-12-09 22:38

      @Azande - very mature response, well done.

      Ari - 2011-12-10 08:59

      Azande works in a funeral parlour. He is only used to dealing with dead bodies - hence his incomprehensible dialogue. Ignore this thing too.

      Gail - 2011-12-10 12:49

      Shooting one animal for the pot on your own land is for survival. You will never stop killing, lets be real here. We live in a society which prefers killing to reason.

  • mundu.olewega - 2011-12-09 21:49

    All I can say it is difficult to subject yourself to a justice system that is fataly fawed by race. I feel for the farmer who was put in this position by a youngster with no power to reason that flight might have been the better part of bravery than to shoot back in certain situations. In a fire fight, the Boer will always win.

      Ruppersberg - 2011-12-09 21:55


      mundu.olewega - 2011-12-10 03:08

      Never mind you are both too thick to debate this with.

      Gail - 2011-12-10 12:57

      Ahh. I fear Mundu that a combination of conditioning and belief in his own immortality (common in young boys of all races), if in fact he was the shooter and was shot at, caused any reason he MAY have inherited from his father to desert him. The alleged poachers must have lived a pretty poor life since not one of the bullets actually hit him so one wonders if in fact they used guns or less sophisticated methods when poaching.

      elizabeth.meakings - 2011-12-10 20:25

      You would not approve of it if I start calling you names. These are fellow Africans or South Africans. Stop being racist!

  • velastardust - 2011-12-09 22:04

    This case is not going to end well for the farmer and his son. Taking the law into your own hands? Not a good idea ever!

  • TaniaSandraSteyn - 2011-12-09 22:29

    "Trespassers will be shot" - does that ring a bell for townies? Pretty cool if you can call your security company or your neighbours to come and help you. I guess farmers just have to lie down and die. Whether the farmer or his son shot the trespassers is not the issue. What their colour was is not the issue. The FACT is these guys overstepped the boundaries, and paid the price. Ask any farmer what it feels like when people treat his animals and livelihood as 'takeaways'.

      Azande - 2011-12-09 22:56

      @Tania, what grade are u?

      Gail - 2011-12-10 13:06

      You see Tania by destroying all evidence we have only the farmer and his son's word to support this and there are inconsistencies in their stories. This is why they are in trial amongst other things. My father was infuriated by any form of poaching however he didn't go out and shoot the poachers ever. This was during the apartheid years and shooting people carried a death penalty. Destroying evidence suggests you have something to hide. Besides which the person you shot just might have been your white neighbour just as it might have been today. The love of money can make any person do strange things.

  • Azande - 2011-12-09 22:44

    Just do us a favor, throw the farmer in a darkest cell and throw the keys away. let the boy go home because he has done nothing. the farmer is conveniently using the boy knowing that the court would be linient to him. Can u out of emotion caused by what yo son did decide to burn two damn human being bodies? Hay maan "maak another plan" farmer, this is not adding up

      Travis - 2011-12-10 04:44

      the man confessed that he did these things to these men. he was caught by the police and put in a position where he had to confess. he most likely know the consequences of his actions and is going to (whether he likes it or not) going to pay the price for for he has done. that's why he said he was angry with himself. so please dont tell me that this does not add up, it makes me upset. a man made a mistake, and that is human. i give him respect for coming out with the truth. some people cant live with skeletons in their closets. the darkest cells belong to those who dont confess to their crimes, and those who have not been brought to justice for crimes worse than these and get away with them. where it is not the case where the farmer is the killer, but where the farmer is killed. the people that do these thing deserve the darkest cells. so please have a little more thought in your next comment azande. you have offended me.

  • Jason - 2011-12-09 23:55

    i think that's great,good riddens to bad rubbish !

  • mario - 2011-12-10 07:32

    with the crime rate we have,the whole nation is in a state of histeria. not the farmers only.

  • Michael - 2011-12-10 08:03

    Im sorry if you are trying to shoot a single warthog you could hardly be classified as a poacher, are warthogs endangered? Trying to feed your family and poaching are two completely seperate issues. The story doesnt even mention if the deceased weapons were found? Has forensics been done on the warthog which had a bullet in it, to match the rifle? How many shots were fired from the deceased rifles? Where are the cartridges? Bottom line, if someone shoots at you then you may shoot to kill them in return. But firing two shots at seperate targets, then running away, coming back later to gather all the evidence and then burning the bodies? Really now, you are clearly guilty and trying to cover up something, maybe the entry wound was in the victims back? This is not rocket science, guilty as charged. The problem with this country is people like Ruppersberg with your comments. If you do not want to educate the masses, and help those who are less fortunate than yourself, then you only have yourself to blame. I am a white farmer for your information.

      Garth - 2011-12-10 08:25

      Soooo . . . who's using the family brain cell this week? Your post is so flawed that it begs comment. Poaching refers to the illegal capture or killing of creatures. In South Africa, under the rule of our wonderfully ignorant ineptocrats, one can even be found guilty of poaching on one's own land - contrary to what some here believe. All animals belong to the state first and then to the rightful owner. Make sense? Okay lecture on poaching over - `white farmer' my a$$ - pick up the thread of the story and read the facts of the case, confused as they are, before you post your ignorance.

      Ruppersberg - 2011-12-10 09:20

      You a farmer??? Haha! Go talk sh*t somewhere else. If you were really a farmer you would know the difference between hunting for food and poaching. 350 rhino's killed in the last year by poachers for their horns alone and you blame it on education??

  • Marion - 2011-12-10 10:01

    I would like to thank the reporter for confusing the hell out of me. If the kid is now 19 and the incident happened in 2004 (7 years ago?) how does that make him a Grade 11 pupil at the time??

      danielle.hamman - 2011-12-10 12:34

      I agree - such a shocking example of "journalism".

  • Gail - 2011-12-10 12:08

    Two people are dead and two educated people are alive. We have only the word of a boy in his teens when he committed the crime about what happened and that of his father who would naturally want to protect him. The boy went out to shoot game allegedly and allegedly came under fire though he was not wounded. He shot people instead. The father's first thought is to destroy all evidence? How many brain cells did he have for goodness sake. He should have called the police immediately and waited for them to investigate. Alternatively he should have photographed the scene including any bullets from the alleged 4 shooters which missed his son leaving them in situ. My brother accidentally shot one of my Dad's farm labourers with a pellet gun, hitting him in the leg. The pellet fell out when he pulled out his long trouser leg and my Dad called the police while my Mom drove the labourer to a doctor to be attended to. My brother was also shocked but he took responsibility for his actions. No lawyers even got involved since nobody was seriously injured. Why the need to cover up so thoroughly unless there was something to hide in this case? The guy who was lying dead was actually on the border between tribal ground and the farm, the other some distance away. At best this was vigilante justice, full of holes like did he shoot the one guy or not and was it in selfdefence? Poachers deserve what they get but they need to be on your property or there should be dead animals.

  • Gail - 2011-12-10 12:29

    @Serena. The point is that De Beer is still alive 7 years later and two families lost members who may or may not have been poachers. No matter how irked he may have been by poachers this did not give him the right to kill them. Shoot them in the leg perhaps if he was outnumbered. They sound to me as though they might have been hunting with dogs which are described as large and dangerous. Why not shoot the dogs? What weapons were the alleged poachers carrying? And finally I would feel exactly the same if this story sounded plausible and the farmer or his son had been killed and poachers brought to book. Nobody has the right to kill another human being simply because he can but it happens. No doubt De Beer was fed up with snares and poaching from next door but he acted as judge jury and executioner and the dead cannot speak for themselves. We have no death penalty in this country for a reason and that is so that people are not killed legally for the wrong reasons or insufficient evidence. How many people died during apartheid for a principle because life was considered cheap and the principled did not always escape people with money and huge resources and ended up dead or vanished. Life imprisonment allows justice and not revenge to be administered and isn't all champagne and caviar at our expense.

  • danielle.hamman - 2011-12-10 12:33

    The level of writing ability in this article is ridiculously bad. What happened to people having to study - you know, specifically how to write - before they got to be called journalists? Shameful man, shameful.

  • elizabeth.meakings - 2011-12-10 20:23

    I have always respected people for who they are and not for the colour of the skin or their race. I think Moss Mphalele's remark is dispicable. Who is a racist now? Its people like you whether Black or White that causes problems for all of us. Thank God most people do not think like you do.

  • yolani.vdw - 2011-12-12 08:18

    Clearly the facts in the article is not correct. As far as I know the boy was in grade 11 at the time and therefore he can't possibly be 19 now. I also think it is easy to make the comments purely based on this article but maybe we should not judge so easily without all the facts. And if the farmers story seems to have wholes in it - is it due to a cover up or the journalist who only mentions certain things. Again the age is wrong so what else is not exactly correctly given to us. Shock can let us do strange things - and unless you were in this situation we don't know what we would have done. Morally we would all say we would not have burned the bodies. We would have done this or that. I also read a comment asking why they are only now in court - remember you are in South Africa - cases gets postponed over and over and over. I believe that this young man would not have shot these "poachers" unless they were firing at him. And again what would you do - fight or flight? Say the dad did not burn the bodies but did call the police. Would you feel this young man committed murder or acted in self defence?

  • zandra.kruger - 2013-01-26 09:55

    This is not the story I read on news24 last night (well at 2am this morning). The story I read is that the kid shot in self defense and is now guilty because the powers that be said that if someone shoots at you you should run away and get help! I mean come on. Why is news24 changing it's story? Where is the story I read last night????

      zandra.kruger - 2013-01-26 09:57

      I am so confused bout this story. Just want the truth!! Or is it that the kid and his father keep changing the story of what happened? If anyone knows please let me know.

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