WINDHOEK – Rachel Rittmann, the woman dubbed the ‘Gobabis Delilah’ and her former lover Rhyno du Preez were both convicted of murder read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act yesterday for killing her husband, 35-year-old Rudolph Henry Rittmann.
Handing down the judgement that lasted for about two hours in a packed D Court, Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg also convicted them of conspiracy to commit murder, acquitted both of robbery with aggravating circumstances but convicted them of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Rachel alone was convicted on the lesser charge of theft for having the wallet and cellphone of her deceased husband in her possession.
Du Preez had already 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. Rachel denied guilt and said she only went along with Du Preez out of fear.
The judge said that looking at the formulation of the charges preferred against the accused it is evident that they are charged as principal perpetrators having joined forces in committing the offences.
He further said that while their evidence in some respects corroborate one another, there are also material differences in their respective versions in that they implicate one another in the commission of the indicted offences.
This, the judge said, would mainly relate to the determination of the question as to whether or not they conspired and premeditated the murder of the deceased and acted with common purpose.
“To this end, the first accused (Du Preez) frankly admitted his involvement in the conspiracy, planning and murdering of the deceased, but at the same time implicated his co-accused to the extent that, in his view, she masterminded it,” the judge stated and continued that Rachel’s version is that she never participated in any plan to kill her late husband.
However, the judge said, when assessing the evidence as a whole and due regard being had for the merits and demerits of the state and the accused persons’ versions, as well as the probabilities, the established facts “overwhelmingly” favour the version of Du Preez.
He further said that with regard to the argument advanced on her behalf that her actions were prompted by fear for the first accused, this is clearly an exaggeration and a fabrication of evidence serving as justification for her subsequent passivity and downplaying of her own involvement in the killing of her husband.
Judge Liebenberg further stated that the choice Rachel made by participating in the murder, the subsequent cover-up thereof and deceiving actions, were clearly unlawful.
The judge said that in deciding whether the state has proved the charge of murder against the accused persons, he in respect of Du Preez, is satisfied he admitted the offence and is accordingly convicted.
As for Rachel, the judge said, her version is not only improbable, but is false beyond reasonable doubt and is rejected.
He further said he is satisfied the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt on the evidence presented that Rachel and Du Preez actively planned the murder and even engaged a third party, the younger brother of Du Preez. This agreement, the judge said, makes them guilty of conspiracy.
While they were charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, the judge said, the state did not prove they killed the deceased with the intent to rob him of his possessions.
The taking of the deceased’s belongings came as a result of their intention to kill him and robbery was thus not the original intention and they should be acquitted on that charge, he stated.
However, the judge said, the fact that Rachel took his cellphone and wallet after the fact makes her guilty of theft and he convicted her as such.
With regard to the defeating or obstructing the course of justice, the judge said that the state proved that they set alight the vehicle of the deceased with his body inside to frustrate the investigation into the death of the deceased and they are thus guilty of that offence.
The matter was postponed to October 7 - 9 for presentencing procedures.
Advocate Marthino Olivier is prosecuting, Du Preez is represented by Illeni Gebhardt and Rachel by Johan van Vuuren, both on instructions of legal aid.
2019-08-30 07:31:29 | 9 months ago