Another murder charge against Werner De Jager

Henry

It is no longer just a rumor that a second suspect in the murder of Fr. Liezel de Jager will not be arrested.

This is what the Amanzimtoti Magistrate’s Court heard on Monday during closing arguments in the bail application of Werner de Jager (45) – Liezel’s widower who is now the main suspect in her murder.

De Jager will also soon be charged and arrested on two more charges of murder in connection with the car accident last year on the N1 highway near Kroonstad in which two women died.

This charge would initially be culpable homicide, but the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPO) has already decided that it should be adjusted to a murder charge.

Gayle Greyling, public prosecutor, informed the court of the DVO’s decision on Monday.

“The decision that he should be arrested (in connection with the new charges) has already been taken. There will be a meeting this coming Thursday to arrange that the case can be transferred from the Free State to KwaZulu-Natal to be prosecuted under the jurisdiction of that province’s courts… and a second arrest is no longer just allegations. This will also be discussed during Thursday’s meeting,” Greyling said.

Werner de Jager, Liezel de Jager, court, murder, Amanzimtoti, Action Society

According to the DVO decision, De Jager, despite knowing he was suffering from dementia, still got behind the wheel of a car. That decision claimed the lives of Berniece and Linda Cornelia Eales.

According to Greyling, De Jager admitted that he struggles with brain fog and remembering events. “He should have acted preemptively and not driven if he knew he was struggling with brain fog, but he still drove recklessly and negligently that day (April 13, 2023).”

Furthermore, the state claims that De Jager planned the murder of Liezel meticulously after he took out several life policies in her name and also amended her will so that he would be the sole beneficiary.

“The state will also later prove that the applicant (De Jager) planned the murder in such a way that he could continue – despite the public’s outrage over the murder – with his intimate relationship with another man,” says Greyling.

She pleaded with the court not to grant bail to De Jager.

“The court, the state, and the police, we are all here to be the voice for Liezel.”

Greyling also revealed in court that De Jager considered suicide in the Westville prison where he is being held.

According to Greyling, De Jager unknowingly shared his plans – to take his own life again – with police informants in prison.

This is one of the reasons why it would not be in the interest of justice to grant De Jager bail, according to Greyling.

She further argued that De Jager would pose a danger to society and also be a flight risk.

“The state strongly denies that it has a weak case…. there is a long list of evidence, both direct and circumstantial, against him. His children will also come to testify later,” Greyling said.

In conclusion, she mentioned that Liezel’s parents live in fear of De Jager and will approach the High Court to stop all visitation times with the grandchildren. According to a high court order, De Jager may visit his children once a month, under the supervision of his father-in-law.

Werner de Jager, Liezel de Jager, court, murder, Amanzimtoti, Action Society

Adv. AndrĂ© May, De Jager’s legal representative, argued for his part that the state’s case is weak and relies on “vague statements and allegations”.

According to him, the state relies only on circumstantial evidence, and no direct evidence pointing to De Jager.

“He was already singled out as a suspect early in the investigation, but it took more than 23 months to arrest him… and it would appear that this is whatever happened in the meantime, because it is clear that the investigation is still not completed; why does it take so long to complete the most basic investigation? The case could drag on for at least another three years, and it would not be in the interest of justice to detain the applicant for the duration of the case.”

Among other things, he referred to the findings of a forensic criminologist who found that Liezel was murdered by someone close to her.

Werner de Jager, Liezel de Jager, court, murder, Amanzimtoti, Action Society

“She, by the nature of her work, often had close contact with other people,” argued May.

He added that De Jager will not interfere with the investigation or any witnesses. De Jager also does not pose a danger to himself or the public.

“The public must remember that we do not yet understand everything that is in the dossier. How can they already see him as guilty? That’s not the test here today,” says May.

Among other things, he referred to a group of protesters outside the court who booed De Jager upon his arrival and called him a “pig”.

De Jager’s case resumed on Tuesday after the court closed on Monday so that he could be brought back to prison in time.

She was loved

A group of protesters, led by the pressure group Action Society, gathered at the court on Monday. The group waited for De Jager at the court with yellow flowers and posters. Yellow was Liezel’s favorite color.

Liezel’s body, then associated with the NG church Suidkus congregation, was discovered on 13 October 2021 in the driveway of the parsonage residence after she had gone jogging.

“She was loved by all of us and did so much for us,” Joanne Herbst of Elders Voice KZN said outside the court.

“We worked closely with Liezel. Many of the old people, whom we had to save from dire circumstances, were assisted by her and her congregation.”