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The brutal murder of Pastor Liezel de Jager

by News Room
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Pastor Liezel de Jager (38) lives with her husband Werner (43) and her two young daughters in the parsonage next to the Dutch Reformed Church. It takes some getting used to having a woman in the pulpit in the church. But in three years he has quickly won the hearts of Amanzimtot, a popular seaside resort outside Durban, with his cheerful nature and passionate preaching. Pastor Liezel firmly believes in a healthy body, a healthy mind. That means waking up early every day to run miles.



For him, October 13, 2021 is a day like any other. At 4:45 he starts running with his group of friends. “He was the usual good-natured Liezel,” said Alan Payne, chairman of the athletics club. “After that we talked, then Liezel and the other joggers each got into their cars.” It is then 5:40. In the parish, it will soon be time for Werner to dress up Ila and Lané for their school day. It will never come to that.

At 7:01 a.m. the call comes to the emergency center. “I need help,” Werner shouts. “My wife was attacked in our garden!” When the cameraman asks more, Werner replies, sobbing, “He’s dead! I think he’s dead.”


The police find Pastor Liezel lying in the driveway of the church. He was strangled and his throat was cut. His pants are pulled down. There doesn’t appear to be any robbery. The car keys, phone and handbag are included. Liezel still wears her watch and rings.

The murder that happened on the doorstep of the rectory naturally causes a great stir. A member of the church council remembers the victim as “truly the most beautiful person, inside and out.” The congregation is “emotionally crushed.” Older church members are crying on the phone. In addition to the “heartbreak” given for the “unjust” murder of the pastor, many prayers for Werner and the “girls” have been expressed on the church’s Facebook pages.

Liezel de Jager with her daughters.

In sugar cane

Who took the life of the beloved pastor Liezel? Since the answer is often in relationships, the police call Werner to the station for questioning. But ten days after the murder, the grieving husband seems to have suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. Liezel’s father Henk van Zyl, himself a former police officer, is the one who reports her missing. They find him three days later in a very unusual place, Werner sitting in his car in the middle of a sugarcane plantation. Confused and obviously intoxicated, he explains that he ran away from the killers. But father-in-law Henk has only one suspect in his daughter’s murder: Werner himself. Unfortunately, the police seem to be too busy with other things. His dozens of phone calls and e-mails go unanswered.



In desperation, Henk contacts the Action Society, a non-governmental organization that does everything it can to solve crimes neglected by the South African police. After an even bigger claim, the case will be transferred to the National Cold Case Team in November 2023, with apologies for the “lack of professionalism”.

Werner de Jager.

After two years of waiting, this unit has enough evidence in two weeks to throw Werner behind bars. Then it also turns out that he probably has more lives with a conscience. For example, the police suspect him of causing a fatal traffic accident in April 2023. Linda Eales (54) and her mother-in-law Bernice (84) died. On a South African news programme, Linda’s widow wonders: “Why didn’t they arrest him then? Would I still have had my wife and mother?”

It is certain that in Amazimtot the police have – literally – ignored the alarm signals.

False alarm

Because on that fateful morning, someone, almost certainly Pastor Liezel, pressed the alarm button in the parsonage at 6:07 AM. Within two minutes, Werner, seriously out of breath, calls the central station to deactivate the alarm with a code word. False alarm, he says. Less than an hour later, Werner calls back and reports an “attack” on his wife.

The detectives must also have noticed that Werner has fresh scratches on his arms. Then there are the recently adopted living practices and changes to Liezel’s will as Werner’s beneficiary. Not to mention the many marriages due to Werner’s depressed mood and his recent exploration of gentlemanly love.

Liezel’s memorial service.

During the trial, the prosecutor makes another explosive revelation. In 2010, Werner may have killed a woman by strangling while in England. In short: Werner is a danger to society and especially to his daughters.

The Amanzimtoti court will decide on February 22 whether Werner can be released on bail. As soon as the female judge says the words “no guarantees‘, muffled applause can be heard from the hall. Protesters are waiting for Werner outside. “Rotten in prison! Rotten in prison!” they shout as Werner enters the police car, grinning and guarded.

April 15, 2024 will be held latest news In South Africa: Werner de Jager has died of ‘medical complications’. It later turns out that these “complications” are the result of an overdose of sleeping pills that he managed to collect in his cell.

It is still a comforting thought for believers that the verdict is now in the hands of the supreme judge.

Murder in South Africa

South Africa has 45 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, making it one of the highest in the world. What makes matters worse is that the resolution percentage is a sad 12 percent. Although the numbers can vary enormously by region or even by residential area. For example, in the Cape slum of Nyangan, the murder rate is six times higher than the national average. Those who can afford it prefer the security of “gated neighborhoods” and 24-hour surveillance by private security companies. Although even these are not always able to stop the enemy.



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