We didn't meddle in Dewani case - Steenkamps

By Drum Digital
07 December 2014

The parents of slain model Reeva Steenkamp denied calling for Shrien Dewani to testify in his murder trial, the Steenkamps' attorney said.

The parents of slain model Reeva Steenkamp denied calling for Shrien Dewani to testify in his murder trial, the Steenkamps' attorney said on Saturday.

"They have never supported any calls for Dewani to give evidence or for the trial to proceed," Tania Koen said in a statement.

This was after a newspaper report to this effect on Saturday.

She confirmed that Steenkamp's father Barry had offered emotional support to the father of slain honeymooner Anni Dewani's father, Vinod Hindocha, and that they had discussed similarities in the cases over their daughters' killings.

Koen denied that the Steenkamps were dissatisfied with the judgement in paralympian Oscar Pistorius's case and that they were appealing the judgement and sentence.

"Mr. and Mrs. Steenkamp place on record that they do not want to interfere or have anything to do with the Dewani court case and that they make no appeal whatsoever to the Judge.

"Mr. Steenkamp has in fact informed Mr. Hindocha that they have received legal advice to not comment at all on the Dewani case.

"They just want to be left alone and will not talk to anybody about this," she said.

Earlier, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said he would not take action over a petition calling for the recusal of the judge presiding over British businessman 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 in a statement.

"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 over deputy judge president Jeanette Traverso.

The petition, with 2401 signatures, called on Masutha to dismiss her, investigate her conduct during the trial and order a re-trial 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 United Kingdom.

Dewani claims they were hijacked while Tongo drove them through Gugulethu in his minibus on November 13, 2010. He was released unharmed while Anni was driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus in Khayelitsha the next morning.

The State alleges he conspired with others to stage the hijacking for which he paid R15,000. Dewani maintains Tongo helped him organise a surprise helicopter trip for Anni for R15,000.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Pretoria is expected to hear a request to appeal Pistorius's conviction and sentence on Tuesday.

He is serving a five-year sentence following his culpable homicide conviction.

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