Trial to start in killing of Swedish honeymooner

The driver of the car in which the Swedish wife of a British businessman was killed on honeymoon in South Africa will go on trial on Tuesday, said prosecutors who confirmed a plea bargain deal had been struck.

“The trial will start tomorrow in the Cape Town High court for Zola Tongo,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazilila told AFP on Monday, adding that two other men accused of the murder will not face court until February 25.

All three are charged with killing 28-year-old Swede Anni Dewani, a native of Mariestad in central Sweden, after the taxi in which she was travelling with her British husband on November 13 on the outskirts of Cape Town was hijacked.

Tongo’s trial will involve a plea bargain that could see his charges reduced, Ntabazilila said, adding that the terms of the deal would only be made public after court proceedings took place.

William de Grass, Tongo’s lawyer, has previously said his client was in negotiations to turn state’s witness.

Tongo was expected to plead guilty to four charges. The plea bargain document would then be read into the court record and would include a sentence that had been agreed to by all the parties involved, SAPA news agency reported.

Newly-wed husband Shrien Dewani was released unhurt on the outskirts of Cape Town but his wife was kidnapped and shot dead. Her body was later found in the hijacked car in an impoverished township neighbourhood.

She was also robbed of a Giorgio Armani ladies wristwatch, a white gold and diamond bracelet, a handbag and a Blackberry phone, the charge sheet states.

According to the Telegraph newspaper in the UK, South African police now believe that Anni Dewani may have been sexually assaulted before she was killed.

Citing police sources, the newspaper said that ballistics tests reveal that the shot that killed the Swedish honeymooner may have been fired accidentally, leading police to believe the shot may have been fired during a scuffle between her captors about whether or not to rape her.

A preliminary autopsy report also revealed that Dewani suffered serious injuries which indicate she had been sexually assaulted, the Telegraph reported.

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Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.