By Megan Swart and Christel Cornelissen
“It is a bittersweet situation. I want my mother to rest now; Michael needs to rest now.”
That’s what Maryke Liebenberg said on Friday after the Bloemfontein High Court sentenced the men who gruesomely murdered her mother and her partner to two life sentences.
The bodies of Annie Liebenberg (62) and Michael Zantow (64) were found in Sasolburg in August 2021 after they were robbed and murdered. The bodies of Annie Liebenberg (62) and Michael Zantow (64) were found on 20 August last year at two different houses in Sasolburg in the Free State after they were gruesomely murdered.
Stanley Lingena and Sithembiso Hlongwane were arrested shortly after the murders. Lingena used to work for the couple.
On Friday, in addition to the life sentences for the murders, the two were also sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated robbery.
An emotional Maryke Liebenberg said after the sentencing that she believed justice had been done.
“I burst into tears. Of course, it will never change anything. It will never bring my mother back, but I know she was someone who believed in justice. Justice has been served and we can move on with our lives.”
Maryke described her mother as a fighter who can now finally find rest.
“After everything my mother has been through in 62 years; all the fighting and suffering and sacrifice… only at the end did she find her happiness and love.
“She was a fighter, someone who always came out on the other side – and now she can finally rest.”
For Maryke, however, it was an uphill battle to find peace after the murders.
“It is a dagger in the heart. Nothing will ever be the same again. I already realized that. You don’t get over loss, you just adapt to it.”
Maryke also has great praise for the incredible and unceasing work of Const. Chrissie van der Linde, the investigating officer in the case, and Adv. Antoinette Ferreira, the public prosecutor.
“It’s absolutely incredible. I am so grateful for everything Chrissie and Antoinette have done. They put in blood, sweat and tears that far exceeded my expectations.
“Chrissie made this case so personal. She was incredible and if she hadn’t been so nimble, we wouldn’t have come this far,” says Maryke.
She also says she initially felt sorry for the accused. “What must be going on in someone’s heart to commit such an act? How are you so harsh and inhumane?”
However, Maryke says the guilty verdicts are the best closure they could ask for.
“Justice… an investigating officer and public prosecutor who fought for us. We have to look forward and move on and keep the good memories.”
Lingela’s application for leave to appeal against the conviction and sentence was dismissed.
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