Cape Town man gets life sentence for stabbing schoolteacher ex-girlfriend to death

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Philip April.
Philip April.
PHOTO: Jenni Evans/News24
  • A Clanwilliam would-be teacher will begin a life sentence for murdering his ex-girlfriend. 
  • He also got five years for stealing her car after the murder.
  • The judge felt that he had given a "watered down version" of what happened during the attack.

The public gallery applauded when Judge Nonthutuzela Ralarala sent Philip April to jail for life for the murder of his schoolteacher ex-girlfriend, Allison Plaatjies.

Just 27, April grimaced throughout the findings ahead of sentencing, then very quickly turned and walked down the steps back to the holding cells of the Western Cape High Court when he heard his fate.  

Plaatjies was found with her head almost decapitated and severe bite marks on her face on 26 October 2019 in her flat in Katjiepiering Street, Clanwilliam.

April was arrested by way of a ruse to get him back from a drinking binge with his buddies in Plaatjies' Hyundai, which he stole after changing out of his bloodied pants and getting on with life as though nothing had happened. 

He eventually confessed. In court, he pleaded guilty to murder, but said it was not premeditated,

He pleaded not guilty to the theft of the car that she was so very proud of. He said they had both used the vehicle, so it could not have been theft. 

He explained that the murder was in the wake of his failing an exam, where he would have qualified as a teacher. He desperately wanted to see her after that, but she turned him down.

Allison Plaatjies was found dead in her flat on Su
Allison Plaatjies and Philip April.
Facebook Facebook, Allison Plaatjies

One of her friends testified that, at that stage, Plaatjies considered their relationship over and he could not accept it.

That morning, he fetched her flat key while she was helping at a school workshop and said he wanted to do her laundry. Later, she fetched her key from him while he was watching rugby and drinking with friends. 

They returned to her flat to eat some padkos she had saved him from the school function.  

READ | Cape Town teen shot 17 times just hours before release of his matric results

But, they started arguing about his drinking and he not being included in her plans for that evening. He was also annoyed that she had taken him away from his friends, and now she wanted to go out without him. 

He stabbed her so violently that he broke the knife. He got another knife and continued plunging it into her body as she fought back. He bit her face so violently that her gums showed.

That afternoon, there was a frantic search for Plaatjies because she had not pitched to judge a modelling competition - and, to her mother's horror, she was found dead. 

Alison Plaatjies' mother, Yvonne Plaatjies, and her cousin, Lizel.
Jaco Marais

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said after the sentencing on Tuesday that the prosecutor, Rene Uys, had rejected his guilty plea because she was sure that he had not been truthful about how violent the attack was when he offered his plea explanation.

To Uys, it was not a momentary lapse of reason. His intentions were clear - it was premeditated murder. 

READ | Meghan Cremer murder: 'The truth came out' - Jeremy Sias says after acquittal

Ralarala agreed with Uys and said April had presented a "watered-down version" of the attack. 

The judge explained that she had to balance everything she heard about his life - how he was very upset when his parents divorced and later turned to drink to numb the depression.

Still, she could not reconcile that with the sheer cruelty of the attack on Plaatjies. 

Plaatjies had trusted him with her life and he had betrayed her trust, she said. Even her family had trusted him, and he also dragged his unsuspecting friends into the mess by driving them around in her car while she lay dead in a pool of blood.

Ralarala told him how he had devastated Plaatjies' mother, Ivonne, seated to the side of the courtroom, who had become ill since the murder of her daughter. 

"A clear message needs to be sent to offenders who commit gender-based violence," she said sternly.

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