Cape Town – The body of Wellington author Winnie Rust had been placed "very neatly" on a dog bed in her house, with no sign of a struggle around her, former police officer Niel de Lange told the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
"Everything was in place," said De Lange, who retired after 29 years of service at the end of August 2017.
But on further inspection, he found the shards of a broken lens from Rust's spectacles on the floor in the kitchen.
In the lounge, her handbag had been turned over, with its contents removed.
There was a very strong smell of gas in the house, he said.
The next morning De Lange and his colleagues met and mapped out a plan for the case.
Nigel Plaatjies and his uncle Johannes Plaatjies are in the dock charged with murder, attempted murder, attempted arson and several theft and fraud charges.
Nigel has admitted to reluctantly helping his uncle stage a robbery at Rust's home to get items to sell for money his uncle owed a drug dealer.
Not guilty pleas
He said he did not mean for Rust to die because she had always helped him out. On the day she died, they were going to talk about her helping him get his driver's licence.
Nigel pleaded guilty to the theft charges for using her bank card, but not guilty to murder, attempted murder and attempted arson. Johannes pleaded not guilty to all the charges except selling Rust's rings to a cash-for-gold shop.
De Lange said that after obtaining a statement from Nigel, the police obtained a search warrant for his home.
There police found Rust's bank cards, R1 200 in cash, Adidas and Nike clothing, a music box and a cellphone, which they seized. He was arrested.
On the Sunday following the incident, they searched Johannes' home and found a tablet and cellphones.
One of the cellphones was Rust's.
After further investigation, they found two rings belonging to Rust at the gold shop and returned them to her husband.
The trial continues on Tuesday.