Judge to decide if father killed two in cold blood
WAS Benoni businessman Retief Liebenberg an overprotective father who deliberately shot dead his daughter’s problematic boyfriend and his father? Did he execute them to get rid of them, or did he simply snap after bottling up emotions for a long time, and genuinely cannot remember shooting them?
These are the questions Pretoria High Court Judge Mahomed Ismail will have to decide.
Liebenberg, 50, faces a double charge of murder following the shooting of Dewald Visser, 47, and his son Poena, 19.
The pair were gunned down in Liebenberg’s home on October 31, 2013. Liebenberg pleaded not guilty to murder.
He said although he did shoot and kill the father and son, he was acting in selfdefence. He also claimed he suffered from amnesia about the actual shooting, and could not recall firing nine shots – five of which hit the father, and four Poena.
Liebenberg said he realised what he had done only when he saw Visser lying at the front door and Poena in front of the fridge in the kitchen.
According to him, Poena was a drug addict who supplied his daughter Chevonne with drugs and was extremely abusive towards her as she tried in vain to escape him. She was also afraid of him.
Chevonne admitted she was afraid of Poena, but denied that he was her drug supplier.
On the evening of the incident Liebenberg found Poena in his daughter’s bedroom.
The young man was lying on his daughter’s bed and spoke to him aggressively. He wagged his finger at Liebenberg and vowed to “f**k him up”.
Liebenberg said he did not want trouble, but he suspected Poena of hurting his daughter as her beads were scattered on the floor and there was blood on the curtains.
He told Poena he was going to phone the police, but the young man said it would not help as he knew people in high places.
When Poena said he was going to phone his father to come to the house, Liebenberg realised trouble was brewing. He went to fetch his pistol so he could “protect” himself.
When the father arrived at the house, he assaulted Liebenberg’s brother, who was in the lounge.
Liebenberg said Chevonne, who was also in the lounge, fainted. As he tried to pick her up, the father and son hit him on the head and in the face. Liebenberg said he “lost it” at this point and could not remember firing nine shots at them.
A psychiatrist confirmed that, in his opinion and given Liebenberg’s profile, he acted involuntarily at this point, and had been unable to distinguish between right and wrong.
But the State argued this could not be true because Liebenberg did not shoot randomly. He aimed at his targets and meticulously fired the shots, aiming at their upper bodies.
Prosecutor Phyllis Vorster said there were no bullet holes in the walls, and Liebenberg did not simply fire in front of him. He gunned down one man at the door and the other a distance away in the kitchen.
It appeared that they were killed execution- style, she argued.
Vorster also questioned how an accused could have two defences – self- defence and automatism.
Laurence Hodes SC, for Liebenberg, said his client was terrified of Poena and feared what he might do to him and his daughter. He had fetched his firearm as he wanted to defend himself and his family. Up to that point, he said, it was self-defence.
The defence changed the minute Liebenberg was trying to pick his daughter up from the floor, and when he was attacked by the Poena and his father. Liebenberg “lost it” at this point and could not remember shooting – thus the defence of automatism.
The case was postponed to November 19.