Cape Town - Nigel Plaatjies and his uncle have been found guilty of the murder of Wellington writer, Winnie Rust.
On Monday, Judge Elizabeth Steyn said both Nigel Plaatjies and his uncle Johannes Plaatjies had planned Rust’s murder.
She said evidence before court indicated that the two had been in constant communication, via cellphone messages and calls, leading up to the murder.
Even on the day of the murder, the two had been calling each other.
“It was only during the time of the murder that there was no cellphone activations on both the accuseds' phones.
“It is clear in this case that the murder was planned. The deceased was strangled and robbed. Both the accused were active participants in the execution,” said Steyn.
Rust, 77, was found on the kitchen floor by her husband Manie Rust , 87, in their home in Third Avenue, Uitsig, in May last year.
Nigel and Johannes were facing a series of charges including murder, attempted murder, attempted arson, robbery with aggravating circumstances, corruption and fraud. Nigel pleaded guilty to all charges except murder, attempted murder and attempted arson. While Johannes denied being anywhere near the Rust home.
Judge Steyn, in her judgment, convicted the two of fraud and theft. She found them not guilty of the attempted murder of Rust's husband, Mannie, and arson.
Judge Steyn pointed out that the testimony of forensic pathologist, Deirdre Abrahams, suggested that Rust was held by force by two assailants. One was grabbing her from the back as the other strangled her. She died of manual strangulation. She referenced Abrahams' report which indicated that Rust had bruises on the back and lower arm. The deceased also had bruises on her legs close to the ankle, her hands and haemorrhages on the skull.
“Accused one in his own version admits that he was there. His fingerprints were also found there,” said Judge Steyn.
She said that, after entering the Rust home, Nigel put the dogs away to allow Johannes easy access to the house.
“His plea is not consistent with the evidence brought by the State before court.”
The judge also said Johannes’s version of events did not give a reason or excuse as to where he got the money from. She said the story about him getting the money from selling scrap was not believable.
Judge Steyn also highlighted that Johannes was later seen at Cash for Gold, shortly after the murder. He was exchanging rings that belonged to Rust. He lied about where he got the items.
She said the two were later shown on CCTV footage at the mall. The matter has been postponed for sentencing proceedings on February 5.