An application by Rachel Rittmann for leave to appeal against her life prison term for the murder of her husband, Henry Rittmann, was dismissed by Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg this week.
Rachel and her former lover, Rhyno du Preez, were convicted by Liebenberg in August last year and she was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and Du Preez to 32 years.
Not satisfied with the sentence, Rachel brought an application for leave to appeal against the life sentence and claimed that the court wrongly concluded that she was the mastermind behind the murder and did not give enough weight to her medical condition as well as the remorse she showed.
According to the judge, the court had found that Rachel and Du Preez jointly planned the killing of the deceased over a period of months.
At no stage was it found that applicant planned the killing alone, he added.
However, the judge stated that Rachel was the one who set things in motion when she effected the changes to the will of the deceased and informed Du Preez that the changes to the would become effective upon submission of the will.
It should also be borne in mind that the murder of the deceased was dependent upon the changing of the will and life insurance policies which only involved Rachel and her husband and not Du Preez, the judge stressed and added: "She was thus instrumental in taking the necessary preparatory steps which, once in place, sparked the decision to execute their plan."
He further said the evidence clearly established that Rachel was the architect of the scheme to murder the deceased, whereas Du Preez was the executioner.
"Against this background, I am unable to come to a different conclusion than the applicant having masterminded the killing of her husband and was instrumental in the timing thereof," the judge ruled.
He further said that the grounds concerning her medical condition equally had no merit as nowhere in the medical report was it indicated that she was not fully aware of her actions before and during the commission of the crime.
"It is still this court's view that the anxiety disorder applicant suffers from cannot, for purposes of sentence, be assessed in isolation and without regard being had to the circumstances under which the crime was committed. Moreover, the manner in which the applicant conducted herself during the commission of the crime. The court then had to determine the extent to which her actions were influenced by her medical condition. For the applicant to simply rely on the diagnosis as a mitigating factor, is simply insufficient."
"In conclusion, with regards to the grounds raised in the application for leave to appeal, the court is not persuaded that the applicant has prospects of success on appeal," the judge said.
Rachel was represented by Johan van Vuuren and the State by Advocate Marthino Olivier.