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Expert testifies that Clanwilliam teacher had 'bite marks' on her face when she was killed

Allison Plaatjies and Phillip April were in a relationship when April killed Plaatjies on October 26, 2019. Pic: Supplied

Allison Plaatjies and Phillip April were in a relationship when April killed Plaatjies on October 26, 2019. Pic: Supplied

Published Aug 5, 2022

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Cape Town - The man who confessed to the murder of Clanwilliam teacher Allison Plaatjies appeared in the Western Cape High Court where a forensic expert testified that she had deep human bite marks on her face when she was killed.

Phillip April has been charged with two counts of theft and murder for killing the 26-year-old teacher by choking her and slitting her throat with a knife.

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On Wednesday, April pleaded guilty to the murder and told the court that he used two knives when he cut her throat, but forensic expert Dr Linda Liebenberg revealed that he failed to mention the additional bite marks injuring her face.

Liebenberg said during her testimony that “the throat of the deceased had been severely cut, in essence, partially decapitating her and severing major blood vessels and other important structures of the throat, going so deep that it actually went right to the front of the spinal column”.

Liebenberg said she recorded the cause of death to be “unnatural extensive slitting of the throat with massive external blood loss”.

Beyond the complex cut to Plaatjies’s throat, Liebenberg explained there were numerous other cut and stab wounds inflicted on the teacher. She identified these on Plaatjies’s face, neck and collarbone.

Liebenberg further noted that Plaatjies had tried to defend herself when she was attacked by April.

“There are several defensive-type sharp force injuries of the hands and one of the left upper arm. These are stab wounds and cut wounds of especially the hands. This is the type of injury that is consistent with a person trying to ward off sharp force - trying to shield the body from penetration by a sharp object.”

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She then went on to show the court in pictures taken during her examination of Plaatjies’s corpse the four bite marks she saw on her face.

“Haphazard bite marks of the face, with the nose, the mouth and the left cheek injured by these wounds... consistent with human bite marks.”

She said three fragments from two different knives were found in Plaatjies’s throat.

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“One blade without the half stuck into the throat and then two separate but fitting fragments from a different serrated knife blade without the half,” Liebenberg testified.

April’s guilty plea has been rejected by the State, which will continue with further evidence from Liebenberg on Monday.

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