Werner de Jager, the husband of the late Reverend Liezel de Jager, has made his first appearance in the Amanzimtoti Magistrate’s Court, charged with her murder.
Did Werner de Jager murder Liezel? – Here’s what the evidence suggests
Werner de Jager’s court appearance was highly anticipated, with prosecutors reviewing a substantial docket exceeding 300 pages. Arrested in Bloemfontein, Werner is implicated in the October 2021 murder of his wife, Liezel, who was found strangled in their yard.
Liezel de Jager, born in 1983 in Graaff-Reinet, was a devout Christian and a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. Known for her infectious laughter and loving nature, she had a significant impact on her congregation and community. The couple lived in Kanoneiland, Northern Cape, before moving to Athlone Park more than eight years ago.
On the morning of 13 October 2021, Liezel left for a jog with friends around 04:45. Alan Payne, chairperson of the Amanzimtoti Athletics Club, recalled his last interaction with her after the jog.
“When she got back, we had a quick chat, then she got in her car and left. The other joggers left in their own cars,” Payne said at the time.
Liezel was seen returning to the rectory around 05:40, and her body was discovered by Werner at approximately 07:00.
At the crime scene, Liezel’s body was found with strangle marks and a sharp cut around her throat, next to a bent metal toy spade. Her personal belongings, including her handbag, car keys, and cellphone, were found with her, ruling out robbery as a motive.
Werner de Jager emerged as a primary person of interest, especially since he discovered the body. An hour before the body was found, an emergency alarm at the rectory was triggered, which Werner claimed was accidental.
His calm demeanour during this period and subsequent actions, including a missed lie detector test and a brief disappearance, intensified suspicions.
Following increasing scrutiny, Werner went missing on 24 October 2021. He was scheduled for a lie-detector test, which he missed. He was eventually found disoriented in his vehicle on a sugar plantation near Illovo South, over 13km from his home.
After more than two years of gruelling evidence-collecting, local authorities arrested Werner on Friday, 25 November 2023 and charged him with the murder of his wife.