Family of Anni Dewani says the justice system has failed them

By Drum Digital
08 December 2014

The family of slain honeymooner Anni Dewani said the justice system had failed them after the Western Cape High Court discharged her husband Shrien Dewani of her murder on Monday.

"We came here looking for answers, we came here looking for the truth and all we got was more questions," said her sister Ami Denborg, speaking on behalf of the Hindocha family.

"All we wanted was to hear all the events and the hope of actually finding that out has kept us as a family going."

She said this right had now been taken away from them.

She was speaking outside the court after the British businessman succeeded in an application for his discharge.

He brought the application at the close of the State's case and neither he nor any defence witnesses took the stand.

"There is no evidence on which a reasonable man can convict the accused," Western Cape Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso ruled.

Denborg said the family was sad Dewani had not given them the full story about his lifestyle and about what happened while they were in the country on honeymoon.

"We just wish Shrien had been honest with us and especially Anni," she said.

"The knowledge of not ever knowing what happened to my dearest little sister on 13 November 2010; that is going to haunt me, my family, my brother, my parents, for the rest of our lives."

She thanked the public and others who had offered their support and said she hoped no other family would ever have to go through what they had been through.

"We, as a family, will make no further comments and we respectfully ask the media to give us some time and space for a reflection."

Anni's parents and brother shed tears as they spoke to the media and were comforted by a number of supporters standing around them.

Traverso said she took note of the strong public opinion and had heard the plight of the Hindocha family.

She said it was regrettable that many unanswered questions remained about what happened the night Anni was killed, but she could not be swayed by public opinion.

"If any court allowed public opinion or emotion to influence the application of the law, it would lead to anarchy," she said.

The only possible reason to have refused Dewani's application was for the hope that he would implicate himself during evidence, which Traverso said would be an injustice.

Dewani walked out of the dock and down the stairs to the holding cell without any expression on his face.

His family burst into tears at the news.

After a lengthy and costly extradition process, Dewani went on trial in October for allegedly plotting with Tongo and others to kill his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

He pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping, murder and defeating the ends of justice. He claimed the couple was hijacked while Tongo drove them through Gugulethu in his minibus on Saturday, November 13, 2010.

He was released unharmed and Anni 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 and Mziwamadoda Qwabe a 25-year jail term. Xolile Mngeni was serving life in jail for firing the shot that killed Anni, but died in prison from a brain tumour on October 18.

Hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo was granted immunity from prosecution on two charges during Mngeni's trial, but was warned he faced possible prosecution on various charges if he did not testify truthfully during Dewani's trial.

Traverso ruled on Monday that she would not grant Mbolombo immunity.

She found that the evidence presented by Tongo, Qwabe, and Mbolombo was replete with fundamental contradictions.

"I take into account that all three witnesses are intelligent and more than capable of twisting their versions to implicate the accused," she said.

"They may have been amateurs, but I do not believe any of them would have been so stupid as to commit the crimes for a few thousand rands."

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