Home News Community swept up in mass hysteria, says defence

Community swept up in mass hysteria, says defence

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The defence for Aldean Wilkinson, who was charged with the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, believes that the community has been swept up in a wave of mass hysteria, where they were led to believe that she was murdered in the presence of the couple’s nine-year-old son.

Aldean Wilkinson. Picture: Supplied

THE DEFENCE for Aldean Wilkinson, 30, who was charged with the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Danielle van der Linde, 29, believes that the community has been swept up in a wave of “mass hysteria”, where they were led to believe that she was murdered in the presence of the couple’s nine-year-old son.

Wilkinson’s bail hearing will continue in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court today.

During his bail application this week, legal representative Kenneth Juries argued that the community was being misled through a petition that was being circulated both online and by way of a hard copy.

“How can the State entertain an ambushed petition? The prosecution is resorting to desperate measures. There is no evidence that Van der Linde was killed in full view of the couple’s nine-year-old son. Yet people are up in arms over how a young mother could be killed in this manner. There is outrage because of a public misconception over what happened,” said Juries.

He pointed out that there was no way of verifying the identity of the signatories on the online petition.

“They could be from Jamaica. The number of people who signed the petition is not even a fraction of the number of community members living in Colville and Floors.”

Juries stated that his client was not predisposed toward violence and would not try to influence or intimidate witnesses or interfere with the investigation.

“He is not a flight risk as he has been living with his family in Colville for the past 30 years. He has three children – aged nine, 11 and 12 – who reside with their mothers. He is not familiar with the identity of State witnesses. He has arranged for alternative accommodation in Postmasburg if his bail conditions do not permit him to be in the vicinity of Colville or Floors.”

Juries added that Wilkinson had no previous convictions or pending cases.

“My client handed himself over to the police after the incident and is able to pay bail of R2,000. He does piecemeal jobs such as welding and assists his uncle with spray painting cars.”

Juries indicated that the investigation would take long to complete and Wilkinson would also need to prepare for the trial.

“The State still needs to obtain statements from the social worker and he is willing to comply with any bail conditions. There is a huge backlog at the forensic laboratories, where it can take up to a year to receive the results.”

The investigating officer, John Ross William Webb, said he arrived at the scene in Pine Road, Floors, on May 15, at around 1.30pm, to find a trail of blood from the bedroom to the kitchen.

“I noticed the body of a woman lying on the floor next to the bed. The top half of her body was covered in blood. There was an open wound on her neck and back. According to the post-mortem results, the cause of death was as a result of her being stabbed in the neck. A huge amount of force must have been exerted,” said Webb.

He added that the deceased was about 10 weeks pregnant.

“The incident has instilled fear into the minds of the deceased’s family. They related that should Wilkinson be released on bail, their safety and that of the children – the 12-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son – will be placed at risk.”

Webb said the deceased’s sister, Bianca Saal, reported that they were undergoing trauma counselling with a social worker.

“She indicated that the children do not wish to see their father (Wilkinson) and are constantly asking about their mother. She fears that Wilkinson will threaten her so that he can have access to the children. She is afraid that he may harm them – where she will be unable to protect the children or herself.

“Some State witnesses are family members and are known to him and there is a chance that he may try to influence or intimidate them if he is released on bail.”

Webb believed that given the severity of the charges, Wilkinson could try to evade trial.

“If found guilty of the charges, he will be facing a hefty sentence. If Wilkinson moves to an alternative address in Postmasburg, there are no guarantees that he will attend all his trial dates.”

He pointed out that the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) is increasing at an alarming rate.

“Femicide is the highest form of GBV.”

Webb stated that two adult eyewitnesses claim to have seen Wilkinson with a knife in his hand, while the murder weapon had not been recovered yet.

“Eyewitnesses indicated that Wilkinson and Van der Linde were in the bedroom and they heard a commotion going on. One of the witnesses saw the deceased running out of the bedroom, screaming for help, while he noticed that Wilkinson was holding a knife in his right hand. He grabbed Wilkinson and asked him what he was doing. He eased his grip as he feared that he would be hurt in the process. Another eyewitness saw Wilkinson running out of the yard, holding a knife.”

Webb indicated that the deceased and accused were in an intimate relationship for about 13 years.

Webb was not able to confirm if Van der Linde was killed in full view of their nine-year-old son.

He added that there was a history of domestic abuse, where during a previous incident Wilkinson had allegedly physically assaulted Van der Linde.

“She was pulled by her hair and dragged across the road to a nearby piece of veld. Wilkinson ran away when he was approached by community members.”

He indicated that no formal complaint had been laid regarding that alleged incident.

“Wilkinson handed himself over to the police on May 16, where he offered his full co-operation. He was in a state of shock, he was shivering and his eyes were bloodshot.”

Webb said they were still waiting for the laboratory results that he expected would be made available in the next six weeks.

He added that 164 people had signed a petition while 611 people had signed an online petition urging for Wilkinson not to be granted bail.

“The community is shocked and outraged over the murder and they say that Wilkinson will not be welcomed back into society if he is released on bail. The safety of the accused is also not guaranteed if he is released from custody.”

The State is represented by Thelisha Piedt.

Family and friends of Aldean Wilkinson and Danielle Van der Linde fill the gallery at the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court where Wilkinson appeared for his bail application. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Video: Soraya Crowie

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