WINDHOEK, 21 AUG – The Ministry of Justice’s Directorate of Legal Aid has appointed a veteran Windhoek-based defence lawyer to represent Rachel Rittmann, who allegedly connived with her lover to murder her husband in 2013.
The directorate today appointed lawyer Johan van Vuuren to defend Rittmann when her murder trial begins before High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg later this week.
The lawyer and accused met for the first time in the High Court Tuesday morning, when the case was postponed to Friday for the lawyer to consult with his client on how to proceed with the trial.
On Monday, the 46-year-old Rittmann lost her legal representation when State-funded lawyer Appolos Shimakeleni withdrew from the case because she allegedly failed to give him proper instructions on how to proceed with the matter.
Shimakeleni was the second government-funded defence lawyer to withdraw from the case in less than two months, following Hipura Ujaha, who withdrew last month citing reasons similar to Shimakeleni’s.
Rittmann is charged along with her lover, Ryno Ricardo du Preez, 34, in respect of the death of her husband, Rudolf Rittmann, whose burnt remains were found in his car on the Windhoek-Gobabis road on 23 August 2013.
Rittmann and Du Preez each face one count of murder, conspiracy to murder, defeating or obstructing the course of justice, violating a dead body by setting it alight, as well as a count of malicious damage to property.
She allegedly mixed unidentified tablets into her husband’s drink, causing him to become drowsy, after which she then called in Du Preez, who was waiting nearby, to kill him.
The victim was allegedly stabbed 20 times with a sharp object, presumably a knife, while he lay in a state of confusion in his bed.
The two accused are then believed to have loaded his body into his car and drove it up to the Kapps Farm area east of Windhoek and a few kilometres from the police checkpoint, where the burnt car was found.
Rachel Rittman 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 represented the prosecution. – NAMPA