Kimberley - A husband on Monday pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder in the Northern Cape High Court before explaining to the court that he acted in self-defence when he stabbed his wife to death in front of her 12-year-old son.
The accused, Andrew Coetzee, 36, indicated in his plea explanation that he feared for his life and acted in self-defence when he stabbed his wife, Rosaline Coetzee, several times with a knife before her death at the couple’s home in Warrenton last year.
Rosaline sustained multiple stab wounds during the incident and died in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. A post-mortem has indicated that she died as a result of a stab wound to her back. Coetzee allegedly slit his own wrist shortly after the incident, according to two eyewitnesses who testified in court on Monday night.
Coetzee’s lawyer, Rick Ismail, read his plea explanation to the court. It stated that Coetzee entered the kitchen where he found his wife drinking beer and shouting at him and insulting him.
“She was intoxicated. She laughed at me and then pushed me. I fell to the floor and hit my head against the wall. She climbed on top of me and started stabbing me with a knife. I took the knife from her and she started strangling me. I feared for my life and stabbed her in self-defence. I then ran to the bedroom to get my telephone and dropped the knife,” the accused’s statement read.
One of Rosaline’s children, a 12-year-old boy, was the first to be called as a witness by State Prosecutor, Joyleen Mabaso. His testimony was heard in camera through a mediator during a two-hour-long session. It later transpired that he witnessed the murder and alerted two men who were also sleeping in the house. The two, Christopher Genda and Ishmail Swanepoel, were then called to the witness stand.
Both testified that they, together with the accused and Rosaline, had been drinking beer at the couple’s home since about 4pm on November 22 2013, only hours before Rosaline was killed.
Both said that they left the couple around 10pm and went to a nearby tavern, before returning to the house and finding Coetzee and Rosaline asleep in their bedroom. They stated that they also went to bed, before being woken up at about 2am by the 12-year-old boy who told them to “come and look, my mother is being stabbed”.
They testified that they found Rosaline on the kitchen floor in front of the stove, bleeding profusely and breathing raggedly, with the accused standing next to her. They said Coetzee then handed Genda his cellphone and told him to call the ambulance and police. Like Genda, Swanepoel also indicated that Coetzee had no visible wounds to his body at that stage but that he took a breadknife from a drawer and went into the bedroom.
Swanepoel added that Coetzee pointed the knife at Rosaline, who was lying on the floor and said to her, “I told you I was still going to stab you to death,” before going into the bedroom.
The child reportedly showed them another bloodied knife, which was laying next to the victim.
Coetzee then emerged from the bedroom with a slit wrist before collapsing at the front door. Both men testified that it appeared as if the accused slit his own wrist with the knife in an apparent suicide attempt, although they did not see him do it.
Rosaline and Coetzee were taken away by ambulance.
Ishmail, while cross-examining the two men, stated that his client indicated that he never handed Genda his cellphone and that he went into the bedroom to fetch the phone to call for help. Both men were adamant that Coetzee handed the phone to Genda.
The trial continues in the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday when the doctor, who performed the post-mortem, is expected to testify.
The trial is being heard by Judge Cecile Williams.
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