Man accused of murder claims his friend's mother made advances towards him

A Durbanville mom killed with a vase in her home two years ago died almost instantly from blows to the face and head, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Hilary van Rooyen was found dead in her Eversdal house in May 2017 by her son, who had gone to check up on his mother when her house keys were picked up and handed in at a local primary school.

Only her cellphone had been stolen from the house.

Reghard Groenewald, a friend of another of Van Rooyen's sons, is on trial for her murder.

According to the State, Groenewald had visited the Van Rooyen home in the past and had attended their son's farewell party a few months prior when he left for England.

Pathologist Daphne Anthony testified that Van Rooyen's wounds were limited to her face and head. Her cause of death had been determined to be the result of blunt force injury.

No defensive injuries

Her body had been found in a pool of blood, believed to have been caused by a blow to the back of her head.

Anthony explained that scalp injuries bled quickly and profusely.

No blood was found in Van Rooyen's airway, Anthony testified, which indicated that her death had been quick.

Van Rooyen, 52, had sustained no defensive injuries.

Groenewald pleaded not guilty on both the murder and theft charges.

In his plea explanation, he said he had visited Van Rooyen the day before she was killed as he had wanted to say goodbye ahead of leaving the country to teach English abroad.

Claims of an argument

On May 8, 2017, Groenewald confirmed he had visited Van Rooyen but returned after he left when he ran out of petrol nearby.

He had borrowed money from Van Rooyen and had promised to return with the R100.

The following morning, Groenewald said he had smoked dagga before going to the gym and returning to Van Rooyen's home to return the cash.

They had coffee and when he took his mug to the kitchen, Van Rooyen apparently made advances on him, including grabbing him "in a passionate embrace" and "placing her hands on my bum".

He claimed to have rejected her advances and an argument ensued near the front door.

Van Rooyen apparently grabbed him by the hand and said "come on", he "pushed her forcibly on the chest" and she fell.

'I wasn't thinking clearly'

Groenewald claimed she had threatened to "tell everyone" that he had assaulted and made advances on her.

According to him, she held on to his pants and repeated her threats. She also allegedly said she would tell his girlfriend.

"I had so many emotions running through my brain at this point and I was so overwhelmed that I was not thinking straight. It happened so quickly but I grabbed the nearest object to me off a table and tried to hit the deceased off me. It happened to be a glass vase. I think I hit her twice in quick succession. She slumped forward, face-down onto the ground," his papers read.

"I felt numb and I can't fully remember the details as I was in shock at what had happened. I panicked and grabbed a cellphone off the table and went toward the front door. I wasn't thinking clearly, I took the keys out of the door and fled out of the front gate."

Groenewald said he threw the keys from his car as he drove away from the house.

He claimed to have gone home and smoked more dagga before driving to his girlfriend's place of work. He threw the cellphone from his car window on the N1 when he realised he still had it with him.

He said he had not intended to kill her.

Blood spatter expert Captain Marius Joubert on Tuesday testified that the condition of the carpet, ornaments and spectacles on the floor and a broken vase with flowers indicated a possible struggle or confrontation had taken place in the vicinity of the front door.

He was of the opinion that Van Rooyen had been attacked in this area "close to the floor".

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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