Durban - The State in the murder trial against a Durban man who strangled his pregnant girlfriend and dumped her body at a cemetery has DNA evidence confirming he raped her before killing her.
The State started the trial on Tuesday without the DNA results being released from the lab.
Simiso Chonco, 26, pleaded guilty to killing Sinethemba Ngubo on December 9, 2018, and dumping her body at the Lindelani cemetery, but claimed he had not planned to kill her.
He also pleaded not guilty to the charge of rape.
The State, however, rejected his plea and the trial began on Monday in the Durban High Court.
Chonco faces an additional charge of theft relating to being in possession of Ngubo’s car.
The latest developments were presented by senior State advocate Noxolo Dube yesterday, however Chonco indicated he would challenge the DNA evidence, claiming it was tampered with because he had not had intercourse with Ngubo on the day she was killed.
Chonco also fired his Legal Aid lawyer, Nkosingiphile Mlotshwa, saying there was a breakdown in their relationship. He said he and his family had made plans to acquire the services of private counsel.
Mlotshwa told the court that Chonco was planning to challenge the DNA evidence by employing a private forensic pathologist to re-conduct the tests.
Mlotshwa said he had advised Chonco about the costs involved in hiring private counsel and conducting private tests, but he had indicated that he had the required funds.
“He could not reveal how much he has, but he said he has the money and his family would be assisting him,” said Mlotshwa.
However, Dube dismissed Chonco’s story as another tactic to delay the trial.
“He would not have applied for Legal Aid if he was able to pay for his own counsel. This is just another delaying tactic. We have not seen any of his family members in court since this case started,” he said.
Addressing the court on the new developments in the case, Dube said although the State had only received the DNA results yesterday morning and forwarded a copy to the defence, Chonco had been well aware that the results were outstanding and would form part of the trial.
“It was mentioned during the pre-trial conference in preparation for the case that the DNA evidence may be relied upon. The defence was aware that samples were taken both from the deceased and Chonco for the purposes of DNA. I continued to check with the lab in Pretoria. The lab confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the results were available on the system,” Dube said, adding that the post-mortem report also noted that samples were taken for DNA purposes.
“He should not be taken by surprise that the DNA results are back from the lab,” he said.
Judge Graham Lopes released Mlotshwa as Chonco’s attorney and granted an adjournment on condition that Chonco returns to court on December6 with his new counsel, ready to resume trial and with the name of the appointed private forensic pathologist.