Western Cape man admits slitting girlfriend's throat during argument over his drinking

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Philip April in the Western Cape High Court.
Philip April in the Western Cape High Court.
Jenni Evans
WARNING: This article contains descriptions of violence that may upset sensitive readers
  • The boyfriend of Clanwilliam teacher Allison Plaatjies pleaded guilty to murdering her in 2019.
  • Philip April said the murder was not premeditated.
  • He went drinking and watched rugby with friends as she lay dead in her flat.

The boyfriend of Clanwilliam teacher Allison Plaatjies pleaded guilty to murdering her in October 2019 during an argument over his drinking. 

"I plead guilty to the charge of murder of the deceased known as Allison Plaatjies," said Philip April via his lawyer, Office Mtini, in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday. 

"I applied force to her neck with my hands, stabbing and cutting her throat with a knife, which caused her death."

However, he said the murder was not premeditated. 

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April pleaded not guilty to the theft of her Hyundai i20, or the alternate charge of taking it without her consent, saying he was the person who usually drove the vehicle. 

He said Plaatjies was his girlfriend; they studied teaching together, and later worked as teachers at the same school in Clanwilliam.

On 24 October 2019, he was in Cape Town rewriting a subject he had failed the previous year.

"The examination did not go well, and I was not happy with the fact that I had failed for a second time," April said, adding it was the only subject that stood between him and getting his teacher's qualification. 

He caught a taxi back to Clanwilliam, and then on Saturday, 26 October, he went to a friend's house, drank beer and watched rugby.

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

Plaatjies arrived at the friend's place after the rugby with food she took home from a braai at the school that morning. They left for her flat in Katjiepiering Street to eat, but she was unhappy he had been drinking alcohol. 

"As she always did, she reprimanded me for drinking alcohol, and then we had an argument," Mtini said on April's behalf. 

April stood in the dock listening, in the blue denim jacket and cream polo neck he had changed into from the awaiting-trial prison clothes he has to wear while in custody.

The argument got more serious and she said she was going out. 

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"I asked her why did she go and take me from my friends at my neighbour's house if she knew that she was also going out to her friends," the court heard.

The lawyer continued:

The disagreement became too intense and I grabbed her at the throat and choked her. I then took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed her. The knife broke and then I took another knife and cut her throat.

A wail was choked back in the public gallery where the family had been waiting the whole day until 14:00 for the case to start. 

April said he saw how much blood there was on his tracksuit pants, so he took them off and threw them in the shower.

He took her car because he usually drove it, and spent the night at his mother's house.

The next day, 27 October, he collected empty bottles from her car and he found one bottle which had beer in it and took it to his friend. 

They started drinking again. He went to a friend's house, drank there, and when he got home to Clanwilliam his mother was cross that he had been driving drunk. 

The following day, he was with a friend at his neighbour's house, and while they were drinking alcohol they decided to visit a friend in Citrusdal.

While there, his friend got a phone call and the friend told April the police in Clanwilliam were looking for him. They drove back to Clanwilliam to go to the police. 

Traffic officials met him on the road, and another officer started driving him back to Clanwilliam in her car. 

Plaatjies' body had been discovered in her flat. 

The police met them on the way, put him in the back of a van and took him to the police station. 

He confessed and was sent for a medical examination.

"I regret that this incident took place," April said, asking the court to show mercy on him.

He added even though he consumed alcohol on the day Plaatjies was murdered, he knew what he was doing, as he had full control of his senses.

The court heard no alcohol was found in Plaatjies' blood.

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