Wife murder accused could be freed


Published: Sunday 7th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A British millionaire accused of his wife’s murder on their honeymoon in South Africa could return to the UK a free man tomorrow if a judge decides to abandon the case against him.

Shrien Dewani has been held at the Valkenberg Hospital on the outskirts of Cape Town since he was extradited in April this year. His trial, four years after the death of wife Anni, is due to reach a critical stage tomorrow when judge Jeanette Traverso decides whether or not to dismiss the case on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Dewani, 34, has always denied organising a hijacking-gone-wrong in a rough Cape Town suburb in November 2010 in which his wife died and he escaped unharmed.

Three men have already been convicted of Anni’s death, but have implicated Bristol entrepreneur Dewani in the case. Prosecutors say Dewani, who is bisexual and admitted relationships with gay men at the start of the case on October 6, wanted out of his marriage and arranged the hit.

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

Earlier this week the family of 28-year-old Anni Dewani – previously known as Anni Hindocha – begged her accused husband 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 next 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 Ms 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 Ms Dewani, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18.

Published: Sunday 7th December 2014 by The News Editor

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