Man accused of killing wife to sign plea

2012-05-18 12:48
Cape Town - A man accused of beating his wife to death with a spade is expected to sign a plea and sentencing agreement, the Western Cape High Court heard on Friday.

Antonio Saldanha appeared in the dock before Judge Andre le Grange, wearing a large cross around his neck.

Le Grange, speaking through a Portuguese translator, instructed him to be back in court on Thursday, when the agreement was expected to be finalised.

Saldanha was charged with murder and breaching a protection order, following the death of his estranged wife Claudia in March last year.

She was granted a protection order from him in October 2010, which stated he could not threaten or assault her, enter their home in Poplar Street, Ravensmead, or stop her or their children from entering.

The couple had been in the process of divorcing.

Hit with spade

In court papers, the State alleges that on the morning of her death he sent their 9-year-old son to her house to ask for a letter, but she refused.

He then apparently came over to the house with the son and 4-year-old daughter, and repeatedly asked to be let in so the children could see her. He allegedly forced his way in and started punching both her and a male friend.

The State believes Claudia tried defending herself with a spade, but Saldanha grabbed it from her and repeatedly beat her with it, despite his son's attempts to stop him.

She died soon after from head and facial injuries. The State intended to link him to the death using DNA samples gathered from a spade at the scene, and a T-shirt belonging to him.

In a previous appearance last Friday, Saldanha was warned to keep clear of his children, as they would likely be called as witnesses.

He had told Le Grange at the time that he missed them, but would abide by the conditions.

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