WINDHOEK - Braam Cupido - the Legal Aid lawyer of Rhyno Richardo du Preez, 35, who allegedly plotted with Rachel Rittmann, 47, to kill the latter’s husband in August 2013 - yesterday withdrew as the defense counsel of Du Preez citing conflicting instructions in the Windhoek High Court.
Cupido made the legal withdrawal before Judge Christi Liebenberg.
The judge then postponed the matter to January 23 next year to allow the Directorate of Legal Aid to appoint another legal representative for Du Preez.
The State alleges that Du Preez and Rachel conspired to kill her husband, 35-year-old Rudolph Henry Rittmann. It is alleged 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 on fire with the body inside, to create an impression the death was due to accident.
Du Preez already wanted to plead guilty on the charges of murder, conspiracy and obstructing the course of justice, and not guilty to the robbery charge, but withdrew his plea after the State rejected it.
In a lengthy plea explanation submitted to the court at the time, he put the blame for the murder plot squarely on the shoulders of Rachel.
Both Du Preez and Rachel pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances and one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice when their trial started on Monday.
Lawyer Johan van Vuuren, who was only recently appointed as the new State-funded legal representative for Rachel, also informed Judge Liebenberg that the plea is in accordance with his instructions, but he read out a plea explanation in which Rachel made some admissions.
She inter alia admitted the identity of the deceased and his bank statements.
She also admitted to having an affair with Du Preez and that they were employed at a cash loan in Okahandja.
She further admitted that she and Du Preez were suspended from their employment at the cash loan.
She however, adamantly denied she colluded or conspired with Du Preez to kill her husband or that she in any way formed common purpose with him as alleged by the State.
The brother of Du Preez, Egenhardt, testified on Monday that Rittmann told him in June 2013 at a local eatery that she and Du Preez hatched a plan to kill her husband to get his insurance policy money and that she would buy him a house or a plane ticket to London if he helped them kill the husband.
He however said that although he had agreed to the plan, his brother contacted him two weeks later and told him the plan was abandoned.
According to police records and the indictment, the Rittmann couple had marital problems, which would often lead to temporary separation stints during 2012 and 2013.
It is suspected the two accused in the matter plotted the man’s murder and worked together to that effect.
It is alleged on August 23, 2013, Rachel allegedly fed her husband unidentified tablets in a drink, which caused him to become drowsy and lose concentration. She then called in Du Preez, who was waiting nearby, to kill Rudolf.
Police suspect that Rudolf was stabbed several times all over his body with a sharp object, presumably a knife, as he lay in a state of confusion on his bed.
The two accused then allegedly loaded his body into his car and drove it up to the Kapps Farm area on the eastern outskirts of Windhoek, a few kilometres east of the police checkpoint, where the car was found burned.
Rudolf’s burnt remains were found in his car a few kilometres outside the Hosea Kutako International Airport, along the Windhoek-Gobabis road a few days after the incident.
Rachel is being held at Klein Windhoek Police Station, while Du Preez is being held at Windhoek Correctional Facility’s holding cells.
State Advocate Marthino Olivier, assisted by Advocate Ethel Ndlovu, is representing the prosecutor-general.
2018-12-06 09:05:40 4 days ago