Woman, 60, took him in and was like a mother to him, drug addict tells court
SELF-confessed drug addict and killer Johan Visser yesterday apologised profusely to the family of 60-year-old Anita Cassel, whom he had stabbed to death in her Wonderboom, Pretoria, home.
Visser, a former manager at Panarottis in Montana, said the woman was like a mother to him. He earlier pleaded guilty to murdering Cassel in the early hours of September 7, 2015. He also stabbed her son Danie Cassel, the operational manager of the restaurant, several times in the arm.
The Cassels had taken Visser in when he started to work at Panarottis, but he disappeared from their home and work a few days before the
He was not dismissed but simply never returned to work, maintaining that they owed him R3000 in wages.
Visser told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that all he wanted when he went to the house was his money. He broke into the Cassel home with the sole objective to steal the keys to the business, so that he could steal the money he was owed from the safe.
While the family were sleeping, Vissel “snorted two bullets” – which he explained was the drug CAT – in the kitchen and took a swig from a bottle of brandy. When he walked down the passage to look for the keys of the restaurant in Danie’s room, the dogs barked.
“I ran back to the kitchen to fetch my jacket which I had left there. I grabbed a knife for some reason and the next moment I heard the auntie coming out of her room.”
Visser said her room was close to the kitchen and they met in the doorway.
“She called out my name and I just started stabbing her. I don’t know where I stabbed her or how many times.”
Danie came out of his room at that stage and Visser stabbed him twice in the arm. He, however, allowed him to go and tend to his mother, who was at that time near dying and already halfway back in her
Visser said he grabbed the keys to the restaurant and went there, and removed R45000 from the safe. He was arrested the same day and confessed.
“I didn’t realise what I’d done when I stabbed her. My only aim was to get to the money.”
Visser told Judge Neil Tuchten that he was sorry for what he had done. “It was not my right to take someone’s life. The auntie was like a second mother to me and it was not my intention to harm her. I struggle at night to sleep knowing what I had done. I get nightmares. I keep on wondering why I did this.”
Speaking to Cassel’s son, who was in court, Visser said: “Danie, I am so sorry. Your mother was a lovely person. I hope you will be able to forgive me one day.”
Taking the stand, Danie testified in tears that his mother spent her evenings talking to Visser about his problems.
Asked whether he could accept the plea for forgiveness, Danie questioned how Visser could kill someone he regarded as a mother. “He not only took away my mother, but a woman who was very much loved by others.”
He described how he was woken up by the “painful gurgling noises” his mother made when she was stabbed – something he will never forget.
Visser’s lawyer, Heindrich Steynberg, in asking the judge for mercy in sentencing his client, said this was not “run of the mill” criminal conduct. He said Visser was only interested in getting his money and unfortunately the elderly woman stood between him and getting the key to the restaurant.
Judge Tuchten repeatedly questioned why he killed the woman. “I view this in a very serious light. A defenceless woman, clad in her pyjamas, was killed in her home. This had dire consequences for her family,” the judge said. Visser will be sentenced later this week.