Judge must decide - murder or suicide?
Pretoria - A North Gauteng High Court judge will have to decide if a Polokwane man committed suicide or was murdered.
The defence for Yvonne Beetge, 43, argued that the court could, even on the State's case, not convict Beetge of murdering her fiancé Bokkie Grundlingh, 53.
Grundlingh died after being shot three times in the bedroom of his Polokwane home in November 2008.
The State alleged that Beetge murdered him, but Beetge testified that Grundlingh shot himself while he was in a delusional state, apparently believing he was back at war in Angola.
She said he had taken a suicide note out of the safe and read it to her before shooting himself.
There was no other direct evidence about the murder itself, but a ballistics expert testified for the State that it would have been impossible for Grundlingh, who was right-handed, to have shot himself behind the left ear without help.
A ballistics expert called by the defence testified that various factors could have contributed to the awkward position of the bullet wound, including the bullet being deflected by bone.
The defence criticised the doctor who performed the post mortem for writing three different reports about her findings and making conflicting statements about the trajectory of the wound that killed Grundlingh.
It was argued that the ballistic evidence was tainted because both experts had relied on the pathologist's findings.
The defence also said the quality of the photographs on which the experts had relied was so poor that even the doctor had made a mistake about the position where one of the bullets had entered.
It was argued that Beetge's version of Grundlingh shooting himself while her hand was on his could reasonably, possibly be true.
Acting Judge Mahomed Ismail raised various curious aspects of the case during the prosecution’s argument.
Not only was there evidence that Grundlingh could not have inflicted one of the wounds without help, but his doctor had also testified that she did not believe that Grundlingh had written the suicide note.
The doctor, who often received e-mails from Grundlingh, said she believed the note was written by someone else because Grundlingh's word construction was usually excellent, but the note was full of simple spelling mistakes.
It was never the doctor's impression that Grundlingh was depressed or suicidal.
It appeared strange that Beetge never did a thing, despite her evidence that Grundlingh often brandished a firearm and that she had feared for her life.
The suicide note, which was according to Beetge put on the floor with photos of Grundlingh's parents and children, did not have a single spot of blood on it while the photos were smeared with blood, the judge said.
Judgment in the trial is expected next year.