Benoni businessman aquitted of double murder

2015-11-19 16:45
Retief Liebenberg (File, Beeld)

Retief Liebenberg (File, Beeld)

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Pretoria - There were scenes of tears and anger in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday after a Benoni businessman who shot dead his daughter's boyfriend and his father was acquitted of murder.

Judge Mahomed Ismail found that Retief Liebenberg, 50, had acted involuntarily when he shot dead his daughter Chevonne's boyfriend Poena Visser, 19 and his father Dewald, 47. The judge found he could not be held accountable for his actions.

The pair were gunned down after an argument at Liebenberg's home in a golf estate in Benoni in October 2013.

Liebenberg admitted firing the shots, but said he was frightened because they assaulted him and he had acted in self defence, but could not remember pulling the trigger. Both men were unarmed at the time.

The head of psychology at the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, Professor Jonathan Scholtz, testified that Liebenberg was a man who usually avoided confrontation, which caused his emotions to build up and explode on the day of the incident.

Liebenberg had seen Visser Jr as the cause of his daughter's addiction to the drug Cat and was frightened by the boyfriend's threat to take her away and that they would never see her again.

Traumatic amnesia

Scholtz testified that Liebenberg suffered from traumatic amnesia after extreme provocation and had acted contrary to his character in a state of dissociation, where he had no control of his actions when he shot his victims.

Ismail said Scholtz's evidence was persuasive, was not gainsaid by the state and stood uncontested. It could not simply be brushed aside.

Liebenberg had impressed him as being sincere. He did not attempt to downplay his actions and seemed forlorn and contrite, he added.

The judge ruled that Liebenberg had acted like a robot or machine without any thought processes and it could therefore not be said that he had the intent to kill.

He said Liebenberg was assaulted minutes before the shooting, feared for his and his daughter's lives, was injured physically and was facing overwhelming odds.

He was satisfied that the State had failed to prove that Liebenberg's actions were consciously directed and that he had acted voluntarily, he added.

Liebenberg and several of his family members cried with relief after the ruling, but he only left the court after more than an hour. He tearfully told reporters that his family had been through a terrible time financially and emotionally.

He said his family and the Vissers had suffered a loss and their lives would never be the same. "I am sorry for what happened, but I did not plan it," he said.

Visser's family appeared upset and very angry. They insisted that the State should appeal against Liebenberg's acquittal and said justice had not been done.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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