Judge to de­cide if fa­ther killed two in cold blood

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

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.

‘The defence

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