Mom of Winnie Rust murder accused collapses at court

2016-08-12 11:41
An ambulance was called after the mother of Winnie Rust murder accused Lien Plaatjies collapsed in the courtyard at the Wellington Magistrates Court. She refused to leave until she saw her son. (Tammy Petersen/News24)

An ambulance was called after the mother of Winnie Rust murder accused Lien Plaatjies collapsed in the courtyard at the Wellington Magistrates Court. She refused to leave until she saw her son. (Tammy Petersen/News24)

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Wellington – The distraught mother of murder accused Nigel Plaatjies on Thursday collapsed as she waited for her son to be removed from the holding cells and transported back to prison after a brief appearance in the Wellington Magistrate's Court.

An ambulance was called after Lien Plaatjies refused to leave following her collapse in the courtyard from which awaiting trial prisoners are transported back to prison.

Nigel, 18, and his uncle Johannes Plaatjies are accused of killing popular Afrikaans author Winnie Rust in her Third Avenue, Uitsig, home on May 11 while her husband slept upstairs.

Police believe she was killed in a burglary gone wrong.

Bystanders prayed for the single mother as she cried silently and continued to wait for her son, despite being urged to accept medical attention.

"Sy gaan nou vir Nigel sien," paramedics said to placate Lien and to try and get her to the ambulance to examine her.

Records still outstanding

Earlier, the case against her son and her brother Johannes was postponed for further investigation.

According to the State, forensic and cellphone records were still outstanding.

The murder accused were denied bail in June when magistrate Alvin Saptoe found that the State had a strong prima facie case against the accused. The two also chose not to give evidence orally during proceedings.

Investigating officer Cornelius de Lange testified that Nigel – whom Rust had been supporting financially since he was in Grade 7 – had denied being at the author's home on the day of her murder, until a witness insisted on having seen him.

His mother was the domestic worker of Rust's daughter. Rust had paid for Nigel's school fees and sports activities and the athletics star regularly visited her at her home.

De Lange said Nigel had given a statement to police that Johannes had forced him to "help him with a burglary" and that he was to keep Rust occupied while Johannes stole valuables.

String of convictions

Prosecutor Mornay Julius told the court that Nigel had said, in a statement to police, that his uncle had forced him to take part in the robbery because he needed cash to pay off drug loans.

Apparently, had Nigel not helped him, Johannes would have had his nephew killed.

Julius said the State found it unlikely that this is what had happened.

If convicted, the two could face life behind bars.

Nigel has no prior convictions, while Johannes had been convicted of a string of crimes including housebreaking, eight theft convictions, two for assault and two for drunken driving.

Two laptops, rings and a handbag were stolen from the author's home.

Fingerprints at murder scene

Rust's husband Dr Manie Rust, 87, found her body when he was woken by the bell at the gate ringing at 15:30. She was on the kitchen floor and had injuries to her face. She had been strangled and her hands and feet were bound.

Nigel was arrested two days after Rust's murder. His fingerprints were reportedly found on a table alongside the 77-year-old's body.

He also allegedly used her bank card at an ATM for three transactions valued at R5 000, as well as her credit card for purchases in Paarl.

Johannes, 34, was arrested the following Sunday. He had allegedly sold one of the laptops and had pawned the rings at a Wellington second-hand dealer.

Nigel pleaded not guilty to armed robbery and murder. Johannes is yet to plead.

The case was postponed to September 19.

Read more on:    winnie rust  |  cape town  |  crime

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