Minister will not take action over Dewani judge petition

2014-12-06 17:21

Justice Minister Michael Masutha said he will not take action over a petition calling for the recusal of the judge presiding in British businessman Shrien Dewani’s murder trial.

“The minister has written to the group and expressed his view on their concerns and requests,” Masutha’s spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said today.

“The minister indicated that the matter is subject to judicial determination by the Western Cape High Court division, and therefore it would not be appropriate for him to engage on the issues that relate to those proceedings.”

Last month, the Justice4Anni Facebook group, which has around 23?000 likes, petitioned Masutha about Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso.

The petition, with 2?401 signatures, called on Masutha to dismiss her, investigate her conduct during the trial and order a retrial with a new judge.

The group said a case expert had prepared an interim dossier during the trial and concluded she was biased for a number of reasons.

It claimed she had been aggressive and blatantly rude to prosecutor Adrian Mopp, while being friendly and assisting Dewani’s lawyer Francois van Zyl.

Other reasons included her reliance on Dewani’s plea explanation which had not been tested under cross-examination.

Dewani is on trial for allegedly plotting with shuttle bus driver Zola Tongo and others to kill his wife, Anni Dewani, while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice.

The court is expected to rule on Monday if Dewani should be discharged of the murder. Should his discharge application be successful, he would be free to return to the UK.

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