WINDHOEK, 05 DEC – Ryno Ricardo du Preez, a key suspect in the murder trial in which a Gobabis woman is being implicated in the death of her husband in 2013 in order to supposedly cash in on his inheritance, has been left without legal representation.
His State-funded defence lawyer Braam Cupido withdrew on Wednesday.
Du Preez, 33, is charged in the matter along with his lover and alleged accomplice Rachel Rittmann, 45, in respect of the circumstances that led to the death of Rudolf Rittmann on 23 August 2013.
Rachel is the wife of the deceased.
Cupido, who was representing Du Preez on the instructions of the Justice Ministry’s Directorate of Legal Aid, withdrew from the trial Wednesday morning because of conflicting instructions his client provided to him in preparations of the defence case.
High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg allowed the defence lawyer to withdraw and the matter was postponed to 23 January 2019 in order to allow the Directorate of Legal Aid enough time to appoint another government-funded defence lawyer to represent Du Preez for the continuation of the trial.
Du Preez also suffered setbacks in his trial when the first State witness, his brother Egenhardt du Preez told Liebenberg a plan to kill Rudolf Rittmann was discussed at a restaurant in Windhoek between the two accused in June 2013.
However, both Du Preez and Rittmann have denied any involvement in the alleged planning and committing of the offence when they entered not guilty pleas to the charges against them at the start of the trial on Monday.
The duo entered not guilty pleas to the charges of murder, conspiring to kill the deceased, robbery with aggravating circumstances when they allegedly assaulted the victim and took some of his valuable personal property, and obstructing or attempting to obstruct the course of justice after they allegedly cleaned the room at a house in Gobabis in efforts to eliminate the physical evidence that would link them to the crime.
In her statement, accused Rittmann informed the judge that she was not influenced or forced by any person in respect of her not guilty pleas to all the charges.
She told the court she was at no time involved in a conspiracy to kill her husband or in the actual killing of her husband.
Du Preez did not provide any statement in respect of his pleas and challenged the prosecution team to prove the truthfulness of every allegation contained in the charge sheet.
The late Rittmann’s burnt remains were found in his car a few kilometres outside the Hosea Kutako International Airport along the Windhoek-Gobabis road.
According to police records and the indictment, the couple had marital problems which would often lead to temporary separation stints during 2012 and 2013.
It is suspected that the two accused in the matter plotted the man’s murder and worked together to that effect.
It is alleged that on 23 August 2013, Rachel allegedly fed her husband unidentified tablets through a drink, which caused him to become drowsy and lose concentration.
She allegedly then called in Du Preez, who was waiting nearby, to kill the victim. He was stabbed several times as he lay in bed in a state of confusion.
The two accused are then alleged to have loaded his body into his car (an Isuzu pick-up) before driving it up to the Kappsfarm area on the eastern outskirts of Windhoek, a few kilometres east of the police checkpoint where the car was found burned.
They apparently set the vehicle on fire in an effort to cover their tracks.
Rittmann is being held at the Klein Windhoek Police Station, while Du Preez is being held at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s holding cells.
State advocates Martino Olivier and Ethel Ndlovu are defending the prosecution’s case.
Trial continues on 23 January 2019. – NAMPA