'Piles of stuff' brought home by man accused of author's murder

Nigel Plaaitjies and his uncle Johannes appear in the Western Cape High Court. (James de Villiers, News24)
Nigel Plaaitjies and his uncle Johannes appear in the Western Cape High Court. (James de Villiers, News24)

Cape Town - On the day that Wellington writer Winnie Rust was killed, one of the men accused of her murder arrived home with groceries, electronic goods, and sweets for his children, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Johannes Plaatjies and his 19-year-old nephew, Nigel Plaatjies are accused of Rust’s murder.

Both have denied involvement in the killing.

The teen has admitted that he robbed the Rust home, and claimed that his uncle persuaded him to do so because he needed money to pay off a drug dealer.

The uncle’s former girlfriend, Jennely de Jager, testified on Tuesday and described how he arrived at home with "piles of stuff".

She said there were groceries, bags from a clothing store, a new silver and white Samsung cellphone, a laptop and an iron.

"He brought sweets for the children and sauces," the mother of two, who works as a cleaner, said.

He also gave her R400 towards support for their children. This was over and above the R600 he had given her when he arrived the previous Saturday from Montagu.

'Scrap money'

De Jager said she had complained about the R600 child support when he gave it to her, saying that it was not enough.

He promised to bring more. When he gave her the groceries and the extra money, she asked where it all came from.

“He told me, and I took his word, that it was from scrap money," said De Jager.

She testified earlier that her boyfriend made a living scavenging for old metal and selling it.

On the night of Rust's death, he told De Jager he was going to visit Nigel Plaatjies – the same explanation he had given every night since he had arrived from Montagu.

She asked him what the two of them do every night and he responded that they download movies and music.

He would usually return around 21:00, bath and go to bed.

The night he returned with all the groceries and treats, he asked to be awoken at 05:00 the next day because he wanted to take the laptop to a friend, whom he identified as Elvis, in Wellington. She noted that, although the cellphone was new, the laptop was not.

The next day he was gone when she woke up, but he returned in time to get the children ready. She did not ask him any questions about what had happened to the laptop.

When she got home on Thursday night, he was dressed and ready to return to Montagu to prepare for an operation he was supposed to undergo the Monday.


He took everything he had brought home on the Wednesday night, except the groceries and the iron he bought for her.

He asked for R10 in taxi money, but otherwise, let her keep the money he had given her.

Earlier, the court heard testimony from employees at Game and Sportscene, where Rust's card was used for a spending spree.

READ: Winnie Rust's alleged killers went on 'relaxed' shopping spree with her bank card - cashier

During the testimony of store staff, it emerged that Rust's bank cards were mostly used with ease.

A manager at Sportscene said she remembered the pair. It was almost time for the shop to close and the value of the purchase helped them to reach their sales target.

The court heard that the Sportscene transaction was processed without the normal processes being followed.

They are supposed to escalate to a more senior manager to authorise transactions over R1 000 and to ask for an identity document.

Rust had taken the teen under her wing, which is why he was a regular visitor to her home in the small Western Cape town.

Since the setup of the house was known to him, his uncle thought it would be a good idea if he helped, the court was told on Monday.

His uncle apparently assured him she would not be hurt, the teen claimed.

The two are charged with the murder of Rust, as well as attempted murder and attempted arson, in addition to a number of theft and fraud charges.

The attempted arson relates to the discovery of a burning candle next to a gas stove which had been turned on.

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