Psychiatric ward has no bed for Rittmann

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-There is no bed in the psychiatric unit of Windhoek Central Hospital for the woman who allegedly conspired with her lover to kill her husband, Judge Christi Liebenberg was informed yesterday.

The judge had earlier this month ordered that Rachel Elizabeth Rittmann, 46, undergo psychiatric evaluation after her state-funded defense counsel, Hipura Ujaha, applied to the court in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act for his client to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

According to Hipura Ujaha, he was unable to consult his client properly, as Rittmann was not “able to give proper instructions and prepare a decent defence”.

State Advocate Martinho Olivier said he was informed by the superintendent of Windhoek Central Hospital, under whose auspices the psychiatric unit resorts, that the unit is currently full to capacity with a long waiting list. He said the likelihood of Rittmann being observed this year was remote.

The murder trial of Rittmann and her co-accused was put back on the mentions roll of the High Court after the application for psychiatric observation was granted.

Ujaha made the application after Rittmann’s co-accused, Rhyno Richardo du Preez, 33, told the court he wants to plead guilty to the murder, conspiracy and obstructing the course of justice charges only and not guilty to the robbery charge.

The State, however, rejected the plea as Du Preez did not admit to all elements of the crimes. His state-funded lawyer, Boris Isaacks, informed the court he was withdrawing the plea and was putting the onus on the State to prove every allegation against his client.

Together the two accused lovers face one count of murder read with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances and one count of defeating or obstructing, or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

According to the State, Du Preez and Rachel conspired to kill her husband, Rudolph Henry Rittmann. It is alleged they stabbed Rittmann to death at his home in Gobabis and then drove the body in his vehicle to a secluded spot in the veld, where they set it on fire with the body inside.

They allegedly did this to create the impression of an accident. The 35-year-old Rittmann’s burned out remains were found a few days later in his car, a few kilometres from Hosea Kutako International Airport along the Windhoek-Gobabis road.

Rittmann remains in custody at Klein Windhoek Police Station and Du Preez at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s trial awaiting section.

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