Farmer can’t remember wife’s murder

16 May 2018 | Justice

FRED GOEIEMAN

An Aranos farmer, who was convicted of murdering his wife on 10 April 2010 after an argument over the funeral of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Eugene Terre'Blanche a day earlier, says the murder would never have happened if he had not taken a cocktail of alcohol and medication.

Willem Visagie Barnard shot and killed his wife, Anette, at their farm near Aranos in the Mariental district.

Barnard had denied criminal responsibility based on the defence of non-pathological criminal incapacity.

This was supported by medical reports that stated he had alcohol and two anti-anxiety medications, Alprazolam and Zopiclone, in his system and was likely to have suffered memory loss for several hours.

When he was asked by state advocate Cliff Litubezi how he felt about the death of his wife, Barnard yesterday said: “I think every day what could have happened. If I was not under the influence of alcohol or medical drugs the whole situation could have been different.

“If I had killed her it was not out of hatred. If she had committed suicide I could have prevented it, if I was sober.”

Judge Naomi Shivute said in her judgment in January that although the substances taken by Barnard were capable of causing memory loss, which could result in temporary non-pathological criminal incapacity, the evidence revealed the accused was in control of his mental faculties at the time of the shooting.

“He was able to remember most of what happened, but conveniently had lapses of memory of the crucial event,” Shivute said.

She therefore came to the conclusion that Barnard was hiding behind this defence, in order to escape liability for his actions.

Arguments in mitigation and aggravation of sentencing continue today.

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