Life for plotting husband's murder

'Like the flame to the moth, she consumed both under the guise of love; the one paying with his life, the other paying the price for committing murder,' Judge Christie Liebenberg said yesterday when he pronounced sentence in the Rittmann murder case.

23 October 2019 | Justice

Rachel Rittmann (49), who arranged the murder of her husband Rudolph Rittmann (34) for financial gain and freedom to continue a love affair, was sentenced to life in prison yesterday.

“All we can say is that justice has been served. We are relieved this is finally over,” a family member of the deceased said after the sentencing.

Rittmann's accomplice and former lover, Rhyno du Preez (35), was sentenced to 30 years behind bars.

Both were given an additional eight-year sentence for obstruction of justice, four years of which will be served concurrent with the murder sentences.

Both were sentenced to an additional three years for conspiracy to murder, to be served at the same time as their murder sentences.

Rittman was sentenced to another year in prison for the theft of her late husband's cellphone and wallet, which she will serve concurrent with her life sentence.

Judge Christie Liebenberg said the murder had been planned in “fine detail” and both convicts acted with the intention to kill.

He emphasised the calculating and leading role Rittmann had played in “masterminding the onslaught on her husband's life”.

In contrast to Rittmann's steadfast refusal to show remorse or acknowledge her actions, Liebenberg said he believed Du Preez had shown sincere remorse for his role in the murder and had taken steps to acknowledge responsibility for his actions.

Du Preez had confessed his crimes to the police and asked for the Rittmann family's forgiveness, the judge said.


Liebenberg said subsequent to her husband's death, Rittmann was “clearly unperturbed” and easily took on the role of a caring wife and grieving widow before her involvement in his murder was uncovered.

The judge said these facts “sadly paint a picture of a heartless, egocentric person who was willing to commit a murder only to advance her personal agenda.”

The judge said both her dead husband and her lover were drawn to Rittmann “like a moth drawn to a flame”, and their love for her ended “with the same devastating consequences.”

“Like the flame to the moth, she consumed both under the guise of love; the one paying with his life, the other paying the price for committing murder,” Judge Liebenberg said.

He emphasised that the motives for killing Rittmann's husband were to pocket his life insurance and to allow the couple's relationship to continue unhindered.

While Rittmann had taken the lead in the plot to kill her husband, Du Preez had “mercilessly stabbed” the victim while he was sleeping in his bed, the judge said.

Trail of tears

The judge noted further that the trail of devastation left by the murder was considerable. He referred to Rittmann's 12-year-old daughter who now has to live with the pain of losing her father and her mother.

Moreover, their daughter will live under the shadow of the stigma “that her father was murdered by her own mother.”

Liebenberg underlined that their daughter has been living without both her parents for six years and will likely remain in the care of a relative.

Moreover, the judge noted that the parents of the murder victim had both suffered strokes shortly after their son's death and that family members had testified that even now, six years later, none have found closure.

“From the events of the evening of 23 August 2013 emerged no victor, only confirmation of the old adage that crime does not pay,” the judge said.


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