“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.