Back in court after three years, Fred van der Vyver recalled his last hours with girlfriend Inge Lotz, who was later to be bludgeoned to death, telling how she had cried as he reassured her of his love.
He was testifying in the Western Cape High Court yesterday in his civil suit against the minister of police for R46-million for malicious prosecution. He was back in court for the first time since his criminal trial three years ago where he was acquitted of her murder.
In the packed court 19 courtroom Van der Vyver, dressed in a dark suit and striped tie, faced more than three hours of questioning by his defence counsel, Henri Viljoen SC, before Judge Anton Veldhuizen. He appeared reserved, with his hands crossed in front of him occasionally while he waited for Viljoen to address him between questions.
Telling the court about his last moments with Inge on the morning of her death, he said that while he had been troubled by a conversation he had had with his older brother Dawie, Inge had thought he was upset with her.
“She was unhappy that I didn’t tell her about the things that concerned me. She asked me if I still loved her,” he said.
“I made it clear to her that it was not her and I assured her of my love for her. I then asked her why she thought it was her or that there was a problem with the relationship. She started to cry and I asked her what was wrong and whether she was still sure about the relationship.”
He said that was when he told Inge to put everything in an email or letter to him, which she gave him after his class, before he left for work at Old Mutual in Pinelands.
He had not planned to see her again that day, he said.
Viljoen also pointed out that while the police had claimed that security measures at Old Mutual were not as foolproof as had been suggested, the defence had proved that those claims were refuted.
He added that before prosecuting Van der Vyver, the police could easily have ascertained that he had not left his office building as he had said and could not have committed the murder.
Van der Vyver also denied that he had tried to evade police and said that he had in fact pursued investigating officers to offer information willingly. He told the court how he had constantly tried to co-operate with police. “I had an appointment with one of the inspectors… on March 30 for 3pm… but he cancelled the appointment,” he said.
Van der Vyver said he then called the inspector to arrange for another appointment. “I gave my total co-operation to the police,” he said, adding that it was only much later that he decided to get a lawyer.
He also went on to address two aspects that the State had used against him in the criminal trial – the letter that Inge had written to him on the morning of her death and the motive of jealousy of which he was accused.
The State claimed at the time that Van der Vyver had withheld one of Inge’s letters in which she had tried to “placate” him. The letter was believed to show that he and Inge had fought on the morning of her murder. “The State claimed you held that letter back,” Viljoen put it to him. “But I was the one who told them about the letter,” Van der Vyver replied, saying he had ensured that a copy of the letter reached the inspector.
Viljoen also read out several SMSes that were sent by Inge to Van der Vyver that police relied on in the criminal trial, claiming they fuelled his jealousy. One of these SMSes included Inge’s message to Van der Vyver that said: “Hi. It was a friendly kiss. Not a flirty one. Just in case you think something else.” Van der Vyver explained that this related to a kiss (x) at the end of an SMS she had sent him.
Another SMS read: “Hi Rudi. Thanks for the coffee. I enjoyed it a lot. Love, Inge.” The message had been sent to Van der Vyver inadvertently and Inge had followed this message to Van der Vyver with: “I told Rudi about you today so it was pure friendship love.”
“There was no jealousy at all about any of those texts,” said Van der Vyver. He faces cross-examination today. - Cape Times