Man wakes friend to confess to murder

2012-05-14 22:27

Pretoria - A witness told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday that his friend woke him in the middle of the night and confessed to killing his wife.

Gordon McCallum was testifying for the State in the trial of his friend Albert van Vuuren, 42, who is accused of murdering his wife Monica at their home on a farm in Bronkhorstspruit in July 2010.

Van Vuuren has pleaded not guilty to murder, but has given no explanation of his plea.

The State alleges that Van Vuuren stabbed his wife to death during an argument.

According to an autopsy report, she died as a result of cervical spine injuries and a stab wound to the chest.

McCallum testified that he had been friends with the Van Vuurens for about two years and had lived with them from time to time.

On the day of the murder, he and Van Vuuren watched DVDs and drank brandy and coke while Mrs Van Vuuren was busy in the kitchen.

Aggressive

"I saw he [Van Vuuren] was getting quite aggressive and I was getting worried about it. I suggested that he should stop drinking. I wanted to give him a pill so that he could go to sleep.

"I put the pill in his hand, but he didn't want to take it. He said it made him sleepy and he still wanted to drink.

"The accused went into the kitchen and I could hear them having words, but I didn't know what it was about. It sounded like an argument.

"... I started getting quite worried, so I took one [a pill] myself and went to bed... I woke up when he came and put on my light. He woke me up and said he'd just killed Monica."

When McCallum told Van Vuuren he did not believe him, Van Vuuren said she was dead and was lying in the kitchen.

"I got dressed and ran to the kitchen. I tried to talk to her, but there was no response," McCallum told the court.

"I was very frightened and ran out of the house." The following day he contacted the owner of the farm."

Wild look

He testified that Van Vuuren "had a wild look in his eyes" that night, but otherwise looked calm.

"I can't say how sober he was, but he did not look right. He looked shocked.

"He had blood all over him... He had a wound on his hand that was bleeding," he said.

McCallum admitted in cross-examination that he had a history of psychiatric illness, and had for many years been in and out of psychiatric hospitals to treat his bipolar disorder.

This included a stint in Sterkfontein and six admissions to Weskoppies Hospital, where he was at one stage treated as an in-patient.

He was also admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Durban after assaulting a friend for making a sexual remark about his cousin.

McCallum said a report from the Durban hospital described him as "aggressive and violent" after he attacked a caregiver and took an overdose of pills, but said his other records would show that he was not aggressive.

Tense

According to McCallum, he found out only after Mrs Van Vuuren's murder that alcohol should not be used together with the medication he was taking.

He claimed he had gone to a psychiatrist for medication to calm him down while he was living with the Van Vuurens because they were about to get a divorce and he was extremely tense because of the atmosphere in the house.

The trial continues.

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