WINDHOEK - Rhyno Richardo du Preez (35), who admitted that he killed the husband of his former lover Rachel Elizabeth Rittmann (47) on August 23, 2013, in Gobabis, has made a U-turn and has asked the court to allow him to give evidence under oath.
This came after Rachel had testified and basically put the blame for the murder squarely on his shoulders.
According to Rachel, it was Du Preez who came up with the idea to kill her husband and she only went along because she was afraid of him.
They are on trial together for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Du Preez basically admitted to all the allegations in the charge sheet and said he committed the dastardly deed because he was madly in love with Rachel and was prepared to do whatever she wanted for her to be happy.
He said that he fell in love with Rachel after she sent him a Facebook friend request and they started a romantic relationship. He further stated that he and Rachel agreed, planned and executed the killing of the deceased. Rachel has denied the allegation.
According to the State, du Preez and Rachel conspired to kill her husband, 35-year-old Rudolph Henry Rittmann. It is alleged that they stabbed the late Rittmann to death at his home in Gobabis, and then drove the body in his vehicle to a secluded spot in the veld, where they set the vehicle alight with the body of their victim inside.
During her testimony-in-chief, Rachel said Du Preez was the one who planned and executed the murder and that she was a helpless victim. According to her, Du Preez used to become violent towards her whenever she wanted to leave him and go back to her husband.
She further said that Du Preez frequently threatened to kill her and himself if she leaves him. She further said this “killed” her love for him, if she ever did love him. Facing cross-examination from two sides, first from Illeni Gebhardt on behalf of Du Preez and Advocate Marthino Olivier for the state, Rachel continued to deny any involvement in the murder of Rittman.
With Gebhardt taking her through her motions of the week before and after the murder, Rachel repeatedly said she was afraid, both of the deceased and Du Preez.
When asked why she slept with Du Preez three days before the murder, she answered that she did not have a choice as Du Preez threatened her. She further told the court that at that time there was no love between her and her husband and that although they slept in the same bed, it was at the opposite ends.
Gebhardt flat-out told Rachel that she was a manipulator who played the two men – Du Preez and Rittmann - against each other for her own amusement.
Olivier wanted to know from Rachel why – if what she says is true – her husband whom she claimed abused her and threatened her several times with his firearm would take her back time and again after she left him to cohabit with Du Preez.
“I don’t have an answer,” she replied. He too told Rachel that she was not the victim, but the abuser in the scheme of things. She categorically denied this.
He also wanted to know from her why she did not warn her husband about the plan to murder him and she replied that she was afraid of Du Preez and what he would do to her.
“I just did what he told me as I was afraid of him, she stated.”
Du Preez shook his head and laughed to himself every time Rachel said something he did not agree with.
The matter resumes on June 11. The trial is presided over by High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg and lawyer Johan van Vuuren is representing Rachel on instructions of the Legal Aid Directorate.