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Court to be packed for Dewani trial

The businessman’s murder trial will once again put the spotlight on the legal system.

Murder accused Shrien Dewani. Picture AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The start of the Shrien Dewani murder trial in Cape Town on Monday is expected to once again draw international media attention to South Africa's courts.

But unlike the much-publicised Oscar Pistorius murder trial, the National Prosecuting Authority says it will not be in the interests of justice for Dewani's trial to be broadcast live.

The British businessman is accused of masterminding his wife Anni's murder while on honeymoon in Cape Town back in 2010.

Anni's body was found in an abandoned car in Khayelitsha following an apparent staged hijacking.

Dewani is accused of paying three men to kill her, a charge he vehemently denies.

Several others are already serving lengthy jail terms for their roles in the murder.

Comparisons have been drawn between the high-profile trials, arguably two of the biggest local court cases this year.

Pistorius's trial sparked media frenzy and gave rise to South Africa's first view into televised court cases.

Media studies Professor Herman Wasserman said Pistorius was known globally.

"Pistorius has a big local and international profile. People are more familiar with him than they are Dewani."

However, the Dewani trial has stirred considerable media interest, according to the Foreign Correspondents Association's Andrew Meldrum.

The public benches are expected to be packed on Monday.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it's ready to proceed with the trial.

The state won't divulge who is on the witness list just yet.

NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube says, "We do not want to cause unnecessary stress to the witnesses by revealing their names, especially because there's a lot of media attention in this case."

Dewani was extradited from the United Kingdom in April and was deemed mentally fit to stand trial after undergoing a 30-day mental health evaluation.

Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso will preside over the matter.

(edited by Gadeeja Abbas)