Chapter 45 (RODNEY GUST)
‘You need to record what I’m going to say. Can you do that?’ And then, as Deric still stared at the man he nearly shouted ‘Now! Hurry!’
Deric motioned to Tim Montgomery as he handed the glass to Mae while whispering, ‘Put this in an evidence bag and keep it safe.’
‘Your people?’ Gust asked with a dark voice.
‘You have anything to do with this?’
‘I’m not sure what this is. I mean what you’re talking about, we-’
‘You know, not so?’
’Not really. Only had a warning and some…clues, nothing definite…’Deric started but then stopped abruptly. He doesn’t want some lawyer getting anything dismissed because the Judge was asked “leading questions”.
‘You should have someone read me my rights. Now!’ The Judge said surprisingly and urgently.
Deric felt a little credulous, he really wasn’t sure what was going down.
‘Jim would you read the Judge his rights.’ Deric asked as he looked to Monty to confirm he was getting all this on tape or video.
‘Gussie, what’s going on?’ Mirna de Wet looked as pale as chalk, ‘You’re scaring me! Why must he read you your rights?’
‘I’m so sorry about all of this, Mirrie, but believe me…’ His voice broke down, ‘…you’ll understand in a few minutes.’ He turned back to Deric, ‘Please, Inspector, hurry up.’
Monty was ready to record and Deric stated all those present.
Jim read Gust his rights and Deric could hear the unsteadiness in his friend’s voice. Rodney Gust stared at the table and only nodded when Jim finished.
‘We need an audible answer Judge Gust.’ Deric said calmly.
With a soft “yes” he obliged.
‘Do you need a lawyer, sir’ Deric asked.
He looked up, ‘Not now, no!’
‘Well, just want to do everything by the book, sir.’ Deric said a little annoyed himself, ‘but, okay then sir, you can go ahead.’
The man swallowed deep and started to tell a twisted tale of love, jealousy and a wild student-prank that went horrible wrong. He kept his eye on his watch. Some familiar details came jumped out at them. Some new details filled the gaps and were added to bring this horror-story to a spine-chilling end. And all the while Mirna de Wet grew paler and paler while tears ran down her cheeks.
‘It was supposed to be just a stupid prank. Just a silly prank! Neill Kruger was a first-year chemistry student. We had the first year students do all kinds of stupid things like cleaning shoes, see to the laundry, fetched coffee - that kind of thing. A few of us tried to be more inventive than the usually mundane chores. My idea was an interesting bedtime story every night. Krugertjie, as I called him, had to tell or read me something extraordinary every night. Something I didn’t know. If he told me something I already knew, he got an extra chore the next day.’ He closed his eyes before he went on.
’One night he told us, Ned and me - we shared a room - about this drug, this sleeping tablet, developed by a certain Sternbach in 1960. I think for chronic insomnia and Epilepsy. He said that this small white tablet dissolves in liquids and is not noticeable to the consumer before it…well, turned the consumer in a, let’s say, hypnotic kind of sleeping state. It rendered the person out of action and kept them that way for at least four to five hours, could be even longer. When they wake up, they had a sort of amnesia about what happened during those missing hours. The problem, as with most medical drugs, it was snatched up by drug-dealers and addicts to use for their own advantages and recreational pleasures. Roofies, as he called them by its street name, was just such a drug. Apparently not as addictive as LSD or whatever they’ve used back then. We found this information greatly amusing and intriguing. Ned and I immediately started to look for the perfect scenario to put this stuff to work after conformation from Krugertjie that he could get his hands on a few. No such occasion presented itself at the time until a few months later, with the invite to the 21st of Minke Blignaut. The venue itself presented the ideal situation and stood out like a beacon on a stormy night to our feeble minds. We’ll never have a better opportunity than that. Everything just fell into place. Neill Kruger’s Aunt was the caterer and he made sure he was hired as barman for the evening. Ned and I would be there on invite, courtesy of our girlfriends, who were close friends with Minke at the time. We planned every detail to a tee. We even had the perfect alibi.’
He swallowed heavily. Mae got up and fetched water for both him and his wife, who by now looked like she’d turned to stone.
‘Are you okay miss…missus Gust?’ Deric was worried that the woman may pass out. She just nodded. She still had no way of knowing what was coming but she had an idea. Somehow she knew it wasn’t going to be good.
‘I’m so sorry to be so abrupt and sound so cold, but I’ve got to hurry up, time’s running out!’ Rodney Gust said towards his wife but didn’t look at her at all.
‘What’s going on, sir, what time?’ Jim asked curiously.
‘I cannot tell you yet. I’ll tell you later…I must…have to finish this…story!’ He swallowed some water and then went on, ’The idea of the prank was to put the whole lot to sleep – at the party that is. We were going to take “less flattering photos” of these “Zombie-like party-goers” in different poses. We’ll send them each a picture and then let them sweat it out. That was our thinking. Our idea of a joke, back then,’ He closed his eyes, ‘it was supposed to be just a damn sick joke…’
His phone pinged again and he looked anxiously towards it before he went on.
‘I’ll fill in the rest later, Captain Offbach. For now I have to go straight to the murder, there’s only twenty minutes left. I did that. I murdered Minke Blignaut’
‘No, no, no…’ Mirna de Wet moaned like a hurt kitten next to her husband in a raw voice. He gripped her hand and between her sobs he said, ‘I’m confessing to the murder of Minke Blignaut on the 13 of November 1980.’ His cast his eyes down and cried like a baby.
After a few silent seconds Deric asked, ‘Why now, Judge, what triggered this?’
‘Because, because…we’ve only got…you’ve only got fifteen minutes left to safe my daughter’s life! Please!’
The already wrecked woman went into hysterics – moaning and crying.
Rodney Gust pulled his mobile from his pocket and showed Deric a photo and a number.
O my God!
They never thought the daughter would be the victim!