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By Ilse de Lange


Drug addict jailed for killing ‘mother figure’

He testified that the victim he stabbed had been like a mother to him.

A drug and gambling addict who is HIV-positive, and told the court he had no idea why he stabbed a 60-year-old woman to death, has been sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment.

Judge Neil Tuchten sentenced Johan Visser, 36, to a total of 60 years’ imprisonment for the September 2015 murder of his employer’s mother, Anita Cassel, at her home in Wonderboom, Pretoria, and on charges of robbery with aggravated circumstances and two of housebreaking.

He ordered that the sentences run concurrently so that Visser will have to serve an effective prison term of 25 years.

Visser used to work as a waiter at a Montana restaurant where Cassel’s son, Danie, is the manager. At one stage he lived with them.

He testified that his victim had been like a mother to him. He said he had broken into their home in the early hours because he wanted the keys to the restaurant to steal money.

When the dogs started barking and Cassel emerged from her bedroom, he grabbed a steak knife and stabbed her. He also attacked Danie. Cassel died at the scene after being stabbed eight times.

Visser, in his evidence in mitigation, asked his victim’s son for forgiveness. He said he could not sleep at night, still had nightmares and could not understand why he had gone so far as to kill a mother figure who was “a really beautiful person”.

An emotional Danie Cassel testified that he still had panic attacks for which he had to use medication and that he and the young boy his mother was raising had to receive counselling.

Tuchten described the murder of the defenceless woman, who was in her nightclothes and no danger to anyone, as senseless and “a particularly dreadful crime”.

He said the crime had a terrible impact on the family, who had only been good to Visser.

The judge said Visser was a danger to the community but there was a chance that he could be rehabilitated in the light of his guilty plea, his expression of remorse and that he was willing to go for counselling.

The ultimate sentence of life imprisonment was, therefore, not justified, he found. – ilsedl@citizen.co.za

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