WINDHOEK - The man who admitted to have accidentally shot and killed elderly farmer Willem Cornelius de Klerk, 71, last week took to the witness stand to testify in his own defense.
Dion Haraseb, 36, informed Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg that he started work on the farm in August 2015 and almost from the outset he had problems with the deceased.
It started when the deceased accused him of not properly looking after the sheep on the farm and withholding his wages. According to Haraseb, the deceased dismissed him from his employment, but did not want him to leave the farm as he was still owing the deceased money for seven sheep he killed. However, the accused said, there was still a semblance of a working relationship between him and the deceased and that on the day before the incident, the deceased brought him liquor and cannabis from Usakos.
On the morning of October 19, 2015, Haraseb narrated, he woke up early as usual and performed his morning duties, which was to count the sheep and prepare food for the dogs.
While he was busy with it, the deceased arrived and ordered him to pour water into a container for the lambs.
He complied and while he was busy pouring a second bucket of water into the container, the deceased told him that since he arrived at the farm “he turned it upside down” and pointed a rifle at him, Haraseb said.
He went on to say that he then asked the deceased why he was pointing a firearm at him and he grabbed hold of the barrel of the rifle and they wrestled for it and in the process he managed to twist the rifle so that the barrel was pointed at the abdomen of the deceased.
“We then fell to the ground and in the process a shot went off, I don’t know how,” Haraseb told the judge.
He went on to say that the deceased was just lying there and he then picked up the rifle, cocked it and fired a second shot.
After that he went to the workers’ compound where he met accused 1, Karel Claasen, 28, and told him what transpired and also told him that they should leave the farm.
Accused 3, Zelda Harases, 28, then also arrived with her young daughter - holding her hand on her heart – and the three of them got into the pick-up of the deceased and went back to the farmhouse with Claasen driving.
At the residence, Haraseb said, he told Claasen that he must take something from the house to make up for the wages he did not get and that Claasen then went to the back of the house, broke a window and opened the front door.
On further questioning by his state-funded lawyer, Illeni Gebhardt, he said that Harases was just sitting under a tree near the house while he and Claasen took items from the house and loaded then on a cool truck.
He went on to say that after they loaded the loot, they drove back to the workers’ compound where they picked up their belongings, but not before they dumped the lifeless body of De Klerk into an empty water tank.
After that they left the farm and drove in the direction of Usakos where they got a flat tyre and split up.
He denied that he had the rifle with him at all times and that he threatened his co-accused to steal the items that were missing from the house.
Claasen, Haraseb and Harases are facing a charge of murder, two counts of housebreaking with intent to steal and robbery with aggravating circumstances; a count of robbery with aggravating circumstances; use of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent; attempting to or obstructing the course of justice; possession of firearms without a licence and possession of ammunition.
De Klerk, who lived alone after his wife died earlier in 2015, was shot twice with his own firearm, which the accused had allegedly stolen from his vehicle on October 19, 2015.
The trial is continuing today.
Claasen and Haraseb remain in custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility after their bail was cancelled for not attending court, while Harases is free on a warning.
State-sponsored defence lawyers Mbanga Siyomunji and Mese Tjituri are representing Claasen and Haraseb, respectively.
2019-08-12 07:20:43 7 days ago