Dewani cleared of honeymoon murder

Published: Tuesday 9th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Shrien Dewani is free to return home to the UK after a South African judge cleared him of arranging the honeymoon murder of his new wife.

Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym, near Bristol, heaved a sigh of relief as Judge Jeanette Traverso dismissed the case against him, after evidence from prosecution witnesses was described as being “riddled with contradictions”.

But the collapse of the trial left his wife Anni Dewani’s family devastated. Her sister Ami Denborg said the family felt “failed” by the justice system, having waited four years for the case to be brought against the 34-year-old businessman wrongly accused of staging the car-jacking in which she was gunned down.

Ms Denborg said the family would be “haunted” by the decision, adding: “We came here looking for answers and we came here looking for the truth and all we got was more questions. ”

Drawing on evidence that Dewani had secret relationships with gay men in the months before they married, Ms Denborg said: “We heard that Shrien has led a double life and that Anni knew nothing about it.

“And we just wish that Shrien had been honest with us and especially with Anni.”

Dewani bolted from the dock as soon as the judge rose, leaving his family to embrace. He left the court a short time later via a side gate, declining to comment.

Three men – Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and gunman Xolile Mngeni – have already been convicted for their part in Anni’s murder, which happened when the Dewanis’ chauffeur-driven late-night tour of a township was hijacked. Monde Mbolombo, a self-confessed “middle man” who set up the murder, may also face justice having previously been granted immunity by the state.

Prosecutors said bisexual Dewani had long planned to get out of the relationship to Swedish-raised engineer Anni, 28, and arranged a car-jacking on their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010 in which he would escape unharmed and Anni would be killed.

But Dewani’s defence team criticised prosecution witnesses and said the case against him was weak.

Judge Traverso said chief prosecution witness cab driver Zola Tongo’s claims about the murder were “riddled with contradictions” and “highly debatable”.

The judge said the evidence presented by the prosecution fell “far below” the required threshold.

Dewani, who was finally extradited this year to face trial accused of planning the murder of his wife, listened intently as key evidence against him was criticised by the judge.

He heard the judge declare that the evidence from the three criminals already convicted over his bride’s murder was “so improbable, with so many mistakes, lies and inconsistencies you cannot see where the lies ended and the truth begins”.

The ruling ended a four-year wait for Dewani and his family to clear his name – a battle which has included lengthy spells in mental health units, lurid allegations about his private life and fighting extradition from the UK to face justice.

Dewani has yet to comment publicly on the case since extradition proceedings began, three weeks after the death.

Published: Tuesday 9th December 2014 by The News Editor

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