Judge to decide on Dewani case

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Published: Monday 8th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A South African judge will decide today whether or not to drop the case against honeymoon murder-accused Shrien Dewani, four years after his bride Anni was gunned down in Cape Town.

Judge Jeanette Traverso will rule on whether there is enough evidence implicating 34-year-old Dewani in the death of his wife on their honeymoon in November 2010.

Three men have already been convicted of their role in the death, after the taxi the Dewanis were travelling in was hijacked as they passed through a township late at night.

Dewani has always denied any involvement in the plot. But prosecutors say bisexual Dewani wanted out of the relationship and plotted for his engineer wife, 28, to be killed in an apparent botched hijacking.

If the judge decides the case against Dewani is weak, he is expected to be granted permission to return to the UK as a free man.

Dewani has been held at the Valkenberg Hospital on the outskirts of Cape Town since he was extradited in April this year.

Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym, denies murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, and defeating the ends of justice.

Lawyers for Dewani last month applied for the judge to dismiss the case – although they have refused to confirm if Dewani would be free to return to the UK immediately.

If the trial collapses today, Dewani would be discharged without ever giving evidence. A decision has not been made public by the defence to call Dewani as a witness if the case continues.

Last week the family of Mrs Dewani – previously known as Anni Hindocha – begged her accused widower to ”tell the world what happened the night she died”.

Tensions between the Hindochas and Dewani ratcheted up a notch at a press conference in South Africa, when her brother Anish implored Dewani to take to the witness stand and tell his story for the first time.

In a statement, Mr Hindocha said: ”It would be a terrible development in what has been a four-year wait if we and the people of South Africa are not afforded the full story.

”If they are not given the full facts, and by that I mean Shrien Dewani telling the court his version, then Anni’s death will remain on the conscience of South Africa forever.”

Reports in South Africa have suggested the case against Dewani is likely to be thrown out before the defence case begins.

The trial had been listed to last until the end of this week but delays triggered by legal wrangling, witness availability and sickness have hit the case.

The latest delay, of almost two weeks, was prompted by the defence application to the judge.

But the Hindochas, who have travelled from their home in Sweden to sit through each day’s evidence since it began two months ago, said they are confident the trial will continue.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with cab driver Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and gunman Xolile Mngeni to kill Mrs Dewani while they were on their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as Tongo was driving them through Gugulethu in his minibus. He says he was released unharmed and his wife was driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

Tongo is serving an 18-year jail term while Qwabe is part-way through a 25-year jail sentence. Mngeni was serving life for firing the shot that killed Mrs Dewani, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18.

Published: Monday 8th December 2014 by The News Editor

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