Winnie Rust murder trial delayed, accused changes lawyer for the fourth time

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 - One of the men accused of murdering Afrikaans author Winnie Rust has appointed a new lawyer - his fourth since he was arrested - the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

However, while the court allowed Nigel Plaatjies to change his legal representation, Judge Elize Steyn warned him that the indulgence would be his last.

"If there are any other problems with your legal representation, you will have to represent yourself," she warned him, adding that the trial could not be delayed any longer.

READ: Winnie Rust murder accused back in court

Legal aid lawyer Yasmine Rajap was appointed to represent him and she requested a postponement so that she could prepare for the trial.

The change in legal representation comes less than a week after the teen requested the removal of a previous lawyer.

Dressed in a blue checked shirt, a clean-shaven Plaatjies stared at the ground as he listened to Steyn's warning.

He did not make eye contact with journalists as a photographer tried to take his picture.

Forced to participate

Plaatjies, 19, and his uncle, Johannes Plaatjies, are accused of murdering 77-year-old Rust at her Uitsig home in May 2016. It emerged during their pre-trial conference that both men intended pleading not guilty.

Rust is related to the 19-year-old's mother's employer.

Her husband Manie, 87, was asleep at the time of the murder. He later found her on the kitchen floor.

Laptops, a handbag, bank cards, a cellphone and Rust's rings were missing from their home.

At a previous court appearance, the teen claimed that he had an appointment to see Rust that day to discuss her paying for his driver's licence.

However, on his way to see her, he walked in on his co-accused and three others as they were stealing from the house.

He claimed that he was forced to participate.

Before proceedings started on Tuesday, Nigel Plaatjies attempted to talk to six relatives seated in the public gallery.

However, his co-accused remained seated in the dock and pulled his black hoodie over his head.

The family had travelled by train from Wellington to attend the hearing. They refused to speak to the media.

Judge Steyn postponed the matter to Monday, October 23.

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