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A catalogue of partner murder cases

Published Aug 9, 2015

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Diego Carlos Estuardo Dougherty Novella’s case brings to six the number of high-profile cases in the South African court in the past three years where men have been tried for the murder of their partners.

These are the cases:

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* In November 2010, Swedish woman Anni Hindocha was shot dead in a claimed staged hijacking in the back of a tour shuttle in Gugulethu while she and husband Shrien Dewani were on their honeymoon in Cape Town.

Three men, Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni, were handed prison terms for their role in the killing, which they claimed was orchestrated by Dewani.

However, after hearing the evidence of 16 State witnesses over 21 days, the Western Cape High Court granted a discharge application which Dewani had lodged, which meant that he was free to go and did not even have to answer to the allegations.

* Five months after Hindocha was killed, 18-year-old Pretoria model Zanele Khumalo, who was five months pregnant, was murdered.

Her boyfriend and the father of her unborn child, Thato Kutumela, was later arrested for the killing.

He was later convicted and is serving a 20-year jail term.

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* By the time Kutumela was sentenced, the world’s attention was focused on one of the most sensational trials in South Africa – that of Olympian Oscar Pistorius.

Pistorius was arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was a model.

He shot and killed Steenkamp at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day in 2013. His version was that he thought an intruder had broken into his house.

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Pistorius was given a culpable homicide conviction in the Pretoria High Court.

He is expected to be released later this month, after spending 10 months behind bars, to carry out the remainder of his sentence under correctional supervision.

* For most of last year, attention was focused on the trials of Pistorius and Dewani. The latter trial wrapped up shortly before Christmas.

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Then, four months into this year, the news broke that Port Elizabeth teacher Jayde Panayiotou had been killed.

Soon her husband, businessman Christopher Panayiotou, was arrested and charged with her murder.

It is alleged that he masterminded her killing and contracted Luthando Siyoli for the murder who, in turn, hired alleged hitman Sizwe Prince Vumazonke.

Siyoli has since turned State witness and Panayiotou and Vumazonke are being detained at the St Albans Prison.

* Two days after Panayiotou’s murder, the body of 28-year-old Fatima Choonara was found in her Polokwane home, after what was believed to be a robbery.

Her husband, Limpopo businessman Rameez Patel, was later arrested for her murder.

He has denied any involvement and claims that robbers killed her at their Nirvana townhouse complex home

The businessman has not yet been tried and is expected to appear in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on September 22.

Weekend Argus

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