Wrongly called a killer


Four months after being charged with the murder and mutilation of his teenage former girlfriend Nico Venter is a free man – and innocent all along.

The murder charge has been dropped and, speaking for the first time, Nico told YOU about the hell he and his family went through.

Anika Smit, the 17-year-old Pretoria schoolgirl he’d just broken up with, was murdered at her home on 10 March this year. The killer also cut off her hands.

Two months later Nico (21) was arrested at his residence at the Pretoria casino where he worked.

He’s a different person now: the once confident extrovert has become reserved and chooses his words carefully. The burly athlete has been replaced by a shy, chubby guy with teary eyes.

Bail conditions prevented contact with state witnesses but he wasn’t given a list of witnesses so, fearful of contravening bail conditions, he avoided his friends.

At least he could see his new girlfriend, Narina Theunissen (19), because she hadn’t met Anika. But after he’d received an SMS death threat they didn’t go out because he didn’t want to put Narina at risk.

Threats were made against Nico on newspaper websites and he was too embarrassed to leave the house without his parents.   ‘‘The worst is . . . watching your family trying to be strong even though you can see they’re falling apart,’’ he says.

‘‘Their work suffered because they were worrying about me. They couldn’t look anyone in the eye any more.’’

Nico wants to get his life back on track and hold his head up in the community where he felt so humiliated. He’s considering suing the police.

It will take a long time to pick up the pieces of his shattered life but for now he wants to enjoy his freedom.

Read about his road to recovery in YOU, 30 September 2010.

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