THE Windhoek high court this morning convicted Rachel Rittman, and her former lover for plotting and executing the murder of her husband, Rudolph Rittmann.
Rachel, 48, and Ryno du Preez, 34, six years ago plotted the murder in an attempt to cash in on the inheritance estimated at N$700 000 in policy investments and another N$750 000 in pension, the high court ruled.
Rudolph was 34-years-old when he was killed, while his wife, Rachel, was 42 at the time of his death.
Judge Christie Liebenberg also found that another motive, on the part of Du Preez, was jealousy.
Rachel and Du Preez worked at a cash loan company in Okahandja where they were suspended for fraud involving over N$100 000. Part of the inheritance was aimed at refunding the owner of the cash loan business, the high court found.
Rachel drugged her husband with unknown drugs before letting Du Preez into their home. She then instructed him to stab Ritmann on his upper body as he lay in bed in a state of confusion. The two proceeded to the Gobabis filling station where they bought ten bottles of water to clean up the scene as the town had no water supply that day.
Rittmann’s body was thereafter loaded into his pickup bakkie and driven towards the Hosea Kutako International Airport and an accident was staged to make it look like he was involved in a motor vehicle accident.
The body was placed on the driver’s seat and the car set alight. This, the judge said, was an attempt from the suspects to cover their tracks.
The suspects face charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the course of justice.
The robbery charge emanates from the fact that the suspects allegedly stole the deceased phone, his car, banking cards and identification cards.
Judge Liebenberg acquitted Rachel and Du Preez on the robbery charge because their intentions were not to rob him but to cover their tracks in the murder execution.
Rachel was, however, found guilty of theft because she was found in possession of Rudolph’s wallet, cellphone and sim card.
She could not give a satisfactory answer as to why she had possession of the deceased person’s belongings and instead blamed Du Preez.
Initially, Su Preez’s brother, Engelhardt du Preez, was also a part of the murder conspiracy, with promise of a trip to Europe or a house where he and all his brothers would stay. He, however, backed out before the plan could be executed.
He was listed as a state witness when the trial began.
“The court is satisfied that Engelhardt was a frank and honest witness. It is therefore ordered that he is discharged from the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. The accused acted with common purpose, with Rachel as the mastermind. She arranged for her daughter to sleep out and made sure the tenant at the house had gone away for the weekend. With Rudoph out of their way, they could continue with their relationship,” Judge Liebenberg found.
Rachel reported her husband missing at the police when she knew what was going on all along.
“She fabricated evidence of her husband’s health and gave an impression that he might have suffered a heart attack when the purported accident occurred,” Judge Liebenberg said.