The man charged with the brutal rape and murder Franziska Blöchliger pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, but admitted he had robbed her.
Howard Oliver faces a charges of robbery, assault, rape and murder for crimes committed against the 16-year-old on 7 March 2016 in the Tokai Forest.
Reading out the charges in the Western Cape High Court, prosecutor Lenro Badenhorst said Oliver, 28, allegedly inflicted grievous bodily harm, stole her iPhone, Apple Watch, gold ring, earrings and earphones, and then killed her.
The State believed she died after being suffocated by pressing her face into the ground and/or by manual strangulation/throttling.
Franziska was found naked and on her knees, with her neck twisted into an unnatural position.
According to police, a bra and T-shirt had been used to strangle Franziska and one of her shoelaces was fastened around her neck. She was also bleeding from the face and genitals.
Oliver, a married father of two, was the only accused still facing the rape and murder charges. Three others were originally charged alongside him.
Oliver’s lawyer Ken Klopper read out his plea in Afrikaans, stating that his client denied his involvement in all but the robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Oliver said that on 7 March he finished work and decided to rob someone. He smoked a Mandrax pill and started walking home on a path through the bushes.
Oliver previously said that he robbed Franziska because he needed R200 to pay crèche fees.
Franziska crossed his path when jogged around a corner, wearing earphones and a phone on her arm. When she came closer, he grabbed her from behind.
Oliver said she was strong, so he gripped her around the neck, causing her to lose consciousness, but said she was still breathing.
He then dragged her by the arms to the bush and then took her phone and ring. He denied taking her watch and said she was not wearing earrings.
Oliver said he fastened her wrists with one shoelace and tied another around her mouth. He acknowledged that her pants were pulled down but said that her underwear was not removed.
Oliver says he then left the scene and only discovered at a later stage — in Pollsmoor Prison — that someone witnessed the robbery, and had kept watch for him.
Badenhorst said the State would not accept the guilty plea for the robbery because not all items were included.
The State also did not accept what was allegedly said in Pollsmoor, because it amounted to hearsay unless the inmate would testify that this conversation did in fact occur.
After listening to the submissions, Judge Kate Savage recommended that Oliver enter a plea of not guilty on the robbery charge too.
Franziska’s parents Shireen and Andreas were called to testify as the State’s first witnesses.
The trial continues.