Rough Diamonds

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Chapter 90

Mike Retief

The next day, Abercrombie stated confidently to Judge Riebeek: “I’ll prove that James Roderick is guilty, your worship.”

He gave the background of the uncut diamonds being found in the desert. He explained that Jako’s grandfather had died and had left the diamonds to the three children: Jako, Michael and Kate-Emily Retief. Kate-Emily didn’t know about the diamonds at this time.

He went on to describe how Jako hid the diamonds. The rock had fallen into the cave killing the boy, Robert Erasmus, and that Jako had to carry the now dead Robert back to the home of Mr and Mrs Erasmus.

He continued and said that the deceased Madelaine van Wyk, now Roderick, had kidnapped his daughter and blackmailed Jako to get the three diamonds into her possession.

Mr Ndlovu was to take the diamonds to the late Mrs Roderick, but Mr Ndlovu never got to deliver them. Instead, the diamonds were taken to his late great-aunt Mrs Ndlovu, where they were lost in a fire.

The spectators let out a collective gasp at the mention of the word “lost” and “fire”. Judge Riebeek told the crowd to be still.

Abercrombie continued: “The diamonds were lost in the fire that ravaged the shacks where the now-deceased Mrs Ndlovu used to live.”

He carried on by saying that the one bracelet, which carried Jako’s name, had been stained with blood. DNA tests had undisputedly proven that the blood was James Roderick’s.

“Although the Rodericks were sleeping in separate rooms, Mr Roderick was at the scene and the blood-covered bracelet is proof of this.” He pointed to Exhibit C, the bracelet.

Abercrombie went on to state that Mr Roderick, and pointed to the accused, must have perpetrated the murder. He paused to let the full effect of his words sink in.

Abercrombie stared in the direction of the accused, Roderick. “Yes, he should hang for the murder of Madelaine van Wyk.”

“I’ve got something I’d like the court to see: Exhibit C - the bracelet with the name “Jako” on it.” Abercrombie pointed to the bracelet on the viewing table.

Judge Riebeek nodded.

“Look here. The court will see blood stains on Exhibit C.” Again, Abercrombie turned to face the accused, Roderick.

“Is this your blood?” he asked, pointing to the stain.

Roderick appeared to be thinking, and said after a moment: “Yes.”

“Let the court record reflect that the accused said: ‘Yes.’ How did the blood get there?”

“That kaffir wore... ”

Judge Riebeek said firmly: “Mr Roderick, mind your language. Please proceed.”

Roderick continued. “The person, who was black, was wearing the bracelet, and it cut my leg while I was attempting to escape.”

“Did you notice his or her sex?”

“Yes, it was a man.”

“It was dark.” Abercrombie challenged. “You couldn’t have seen his body.”

Roderick with a muted voice: “Uh, I saw him at the murder scene.”

“Could you repeat that, please?”

Roderick said more clearly: “I saw him at the murder scene, directly after it happened.”

“I remind the accused, it was pitch dark at the scene of the murder, too. Did you have the lights on when you murdered Madelaine van Wyk?”

Mike saw Roderick squirm. He appeared at a loss for words.

“Did you have the lights on when you murdered Madelaine van Wyk?”

Mike, who was sitting close to Roderick, realised he’d excreted a smell.

Roderick said to Judge Riebeek: “Your worship, I’ve got another problem.”

Judge Riebeek looked at Roderick with frustration. Then Mike saw the judge suddenly realise what had happened. Roderick looked pale and terrified.

“Go and clean yourself. We’ll break for the day.”

The policeman escorted Roderick through the door that led to the toilets.

He’s going again, Mike thought.

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