Tuesday, 27 March 2007

'I reject his remorse with contempt'

Zelda Venter

March 27 2007 at 10:10AM

The widow of the only manufacturer of the well-known Roberto pan flutes says that while God might forgive them, she will never forgive her husband's attackers.

"I reject his remorse with contempt. He does not know what emotional damage he has caused me and my family," an angry Elsabe Liebenberg told the Pretoria High Court on Monday.

She was responding to the counsel of Klaas Kgafela, who told Liebenberg that Kgafela was deeply sorry for her loss. Liebenberg's husband, Pieter, to whom she was married for 32 years, was killed in their Wierda Park home in February 2004.

Kgafela was on Monday given the benefit of the doubt and acquitted of murder when Judge Natvarial Ranchod said his version, in which he claimed that he had nothing to do with the stabbing, could possibly be true. Kgafela's co-accused, David Tshabalala, earlier pleaded guilty to the murder and he was given a life sentence.

'Repeated that she would never forgive him'

He implicated Kgafela and said the latter helped him drag the dying man to the garage to tie him up. But Kgafela denied this. He said they were knocking on people's doors that day with the aim of looking for work. When they failed to get anything, they decided to break into the home of the Liebenbergs.

Kgafela said this was to get some food and money for the taxi back home. While they were snooping around the house, Liebenberg came walking down the stairs and surprised them. Kgafela said Tshabalala picked up a knife and stabbed the man, while he (Kgafela) fled from the house.

Ranchod on Monday convicted Kgafela of theft and said if the State had not omitted charging him for housebreaking with the intent to steal, he would have definitely convicted him on that charge. He could then have sentenced him to a minimum of 15 years' imprisonment.

But as it stood, he could only convict him of theft, which carried a far more lenient sentence.

Elsabe Liebenberg had earlier testified in Tshabalala's trial that she would never forgive him for what he had done. She said he took away her soulmate and left her without a home. The court heard that she was never able to return to their Wierda Park home after the incident. Even the family dog was so traumatised it had to be put down.

'Even the family dog was so traumatised'

On Monday, as she took the stand in aggravation of sentence regarding Kgafela, Elsabe repeated that she would never forgive him.

Liebenberg said she and their only child were still devastated.

Her husband's death had also left the pan flute industry shattered as he was the only person in the country who manufactured the Roberto pan flutes.

She said although Kgafela was acquitted on the murder charge, he still had had no right to be in her home and to invade her privacy.

"I would like to see the court sentence him to the longest possible time in jail.

"He must regard himself as extremely lucky that the State's case was not strong enough against him."

Rejecting his apologies, Liebenberg said she did not have time for "monsters".

Kgafela will be sentenced on Tuesday.


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