Namibia: Ex-Lovers Get Judgement Date

Two former lovers charged with having plotted the murder of a Gobabis resident who was stabbed to death in his house six years ago, are due to hear the verdict in their trial in the Windhoek High Court on Thursday next week.

Both state advocate Marthino Olivier and defence lawyer Ileni Gebhardt argued during a hearing before judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday that ex-lovers Rhyno du Preez and Rachel Rittmann should be found guilty of having murdered Rittmann's husband, Rudolph Rittmann, at Gobabis on 23 August 2013.

Gebhardt, who is representing Du Preez (35), and Olivier also both argued that the two accused should be convicted of having tried to obstruct an investigation of the murder by cleaning the scene where Rudolph Rittmann (34) had been stabbed to death, and taking his body to a spot next to the main road between Gobabis and Windhoek, where it was burnt beyond recognition when Du Preez set Rittmann's bakkie, with the body inside, on fire.

In contrast to the arguments of Olivier and Gebhardt, Rachel Rittmann's defence lawyer, Johan van Vuuren, asked the judge to acquit her on all charges. He based his argument for her acquittal on her claims that she lived in fear of Du Preez, with whom she was involved in an extra-marital affair before her husband was killed, as he was aggressive and at times violent towards her during the time they were involved in a relationship. Under threat from Du Preez, Rachel Rittmann acted out of necessity when she helped Du Preez to kill her husband and tried to hide his role in the murder afterwards, Van Vuuren argued.

Rachel Rittmann (48) told the court during the trial that Du Preez had threatened to kill her husband before he travelled to Gobabis on 23 August 2013. After Du Preez's arrival at the town, she let him into the house where she and her husband lived, and was present when Du Preez became involved in a fight with her husband and then asked her to fetch a knife for him, Rittmann said.

She also told the court that, since she was afraid of Du Preez, she complied with his request and fetched a knife from the kitchen. After she had given the knife to Du Preez, he used it to stab Rudolph Rittmann to death, she recounted.

Although he denied guilt on all charges - counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating or obstructing the course of justice - at the start of the trial in December last year, Du Preez made extensive admissions during the trial, and testified that Rachel Rittmann hatched a plan to have her husband killed so that she could receive money from Rudolph Rittmann's life insurance and inherit part of his estate.

Du Preez also insisted that his former lover had been the mastermind who orchestrated the murder over which they were being prosecuted.

Olivier argued yesterday that money had been the motive for the murder, and that the killing had been meticulously planned by both Rachel Rittmann and Du Preez. Gebhardt argued that, while Rachel Rittmann claimed to have acquiesced in the murder and to have remained silent about Du Preez's responsibility because she was acting out of fear, there had actually been no threat to her life that prevented her from alerting the police, or warning Rudolph Rittmann of the threat to his life.

Rittmann and Du Preez were both arrested nine days after the murder, after police officers looking for them found them together in bed in a house in Windhoek.

They have remained in custody since their arrest.

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