News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
20 Apr 2017
11:56 am

Knife killer destroyed our lives, ex-wife tells court

Ilse de Lange

The killer only paused to put on a balaclava in between stabbing his victim when he saw there was a witness filming him.

A young Pretoria mother yesterday cried bitterly when she told the court how her mother’s murder had destroyed her family’s lives.

Leandri Visser and her father, Dirk van Niekerk.

Leandri Visser and her father, Dirk van Niekerk.

Leandri Visser testified in aggravation of sentence against her former husband Stefan Visser (29), who has been convicted of murdering his mother-in-law, Pastor Elsabé van Niekerk (59), in April last year.

Visser admitted he had stabbed Van Niekerk to death in a fit of anger after she hit him with her handbag and punched him on the chest during an argument about his pending divorce, but insisted he had never planned the murder.

He refused to testify in mitigation despite the advice of his attorney.

Although he did not say so in his plea explanation, Visser admitted in an earlier statement that he had pulled a balaclava over his head after the first stab wound when he realised a neighbour was filming him, and then carried on stabbing Van Niekerk.

Van Niekerk – a pastor who counselled traumatised children – was attacked at the family’s panel-beating business in Gezina.

Photos of the scene and the autopsy showed just how viciously Visser had attacked his victim, who had numerous chop and stab wounds all over her body.

His former wife testified that her mother “was love itself” and had treated her former husband like a son. Her mother kept on encouraging him even after they separated, although she also cautioned him about his drinking.

Her mother had been their rock and counsellor. Her murder had torn the family apart and destroyed their lives. They were in the process of losing their house and she had given up her photography business, in which her mother was her partner, because it was no longer the same.

Her father, who had found his wife’s body, needed counselling as he could not sleep at night and kept on getting flashbacks about the bloody scene. She saw him deteriorating day by day.

She and her two children also needed counselling. Her children missed their grandmother terribly and could not understand why heaven did not have visiting hours.

She said the family could still not understand how her former husband could have done such a terrible thing.

Visser’s advocate asked the court to take into account that his client had pleaded guilty and showed remorse, but Judge Nicolene Janse van Nieuwenhuizen said there was no evidence of remorse before the court.

Prosecutor Pieter Luyt asked the court to sentence Visser to at least 30 years’ imprisonment because of the particularly gruesome nature of the attack.

The trial continues.