Winnie Rust murder accused will not testify

Nigel and Johannes Plaatjies. (Tammy Petersen, News24)
Nigel and Johannes Plaatjies. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Cape Town – The two men accused of the murder of Afrikaans author Winnie Rust have elected not to testify.

Rust’s daughters were at the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday when the men appeared and sat behind them during proceedings.

One of the accused, Nigel Plaatjies, 19, was supposed to testify in his defence but, when court proceedings commenced, he claimed he had a headache.

Judge Elize Steyn adjourned to allow the once promising athlete to receive medical attention, warning him that his credibility would be affected if it was found that there was nothing wrong with him.

When court resumed, however, his advocate, Yasmine Rajap, told the court her client had decided he would no longer testify.

She said Plaatjies told her during a consultation that his headache was not so severe that a doctor's visit was necessary.

"I informed him of his options and he chooses to close his case," Rajap informed the court.

His co-accused and uncle, Johannes Plaatjies, through his advocate Ken Klopper, also told the court that he would not testify in his defence.

Nigel's mother worked for Rust's daughter.

Rust had been paying for the teen’s sports activities and school fees since he was in Grade 7 and he regularly visited her home.

Pleaded not guilty

In his plea explanation, he denied that he had killed Rust and claimed that his uncle convinced him to rob the Rusts in Uitsig, Wellington so that he could pay off drug debt.

He added that he never meant for Rust, whom he described as "his biggest fan", to die.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder and attempted arson charges.

However, he pleaded guilty to theft - a charge which arose from the use of Rust's bank card.

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

The 19-year-old had failed in his bid to be released on bail on two occasions.

In his initial statement to police, he claimed he was forced to take part in the robbery at Rust's home because his co-accused owed a drug lord money and his family's safety had been threatened.

During his second attempt at bail, Nigel told the court he walked in on the robbery.

He said he had an appointment to see Rust to discuss her paying for him to obtain his driver's licence. His uncle, along with three others, had been committing the robbery and forced him to participate.

The uncle denied the allegations against him, admitting only to pawning two rings that belonged to Rust.

Closing arguments are expected to be made on Monday.

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