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Trial Nears End in Killing of Wife of Former South Africa President - 2003-05-12


A court in Cape Town has heard closing arguments in the trial for the murder of former First Lady Marike de Klerk, and a judgment is expected as early as Tuesday.

Both the prosecution and the defense focused their closing arguments on an alleged confession made by the defendant, Luyanda Mboniswa, who is accused of murder, rape and housebreaking in connection to the death of the former first lady.

The prosecuting attorney, Tessa Heunis, told the court she is confident the state has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Ms. Heunis said the defense based its case on speculation.

The prosecutor said Mr. Mboniswa's confession alone, made before the trial began, was enough evidence to convict him.

In a pre-trial statement, Mr. Mboniswa implicated Mrs. de Klerk's dance teacher in the crime. He told a magistrate that he had helped the dance teacher, John Thebus, to break into the apartment and kill the former First Lady.

Mr. Thebus denied involvement in the murder. The prosecutors have dismissed the allegations against the dance teacher as false.

Mr. Mboniswa's defense lawyer asked the court to disregard the confession. He argued that it was unreliable because it contained a number of falsehoods. He said if the court rejects the allegations against Mr. Thebus as untrue, then it has to ignore the entire confession.

The defense lawyer said his client did not make a clear admission of guilt.

Marike de Klerk was murdered in December 2001. Her body was found stabbed in her luxury Cape Town apartment, and several items were missing from her house.

Mr. Mboniswa is a 22-year-old former security guard who worked at Mrs. de Klerk's apartment complex.

The trial has dragged on for more than four months amid repeated delays. The court is expected to rule on the case as early as Tuesday.

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