3 reasons State's case against Dewani fell apart

2014-12-08 15:26
Shrien Dewani (File: AP)

Shrien Dewani (File: AP)

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Cape Town - Emotions ran high at the Western Cape High Court on Monday as Judge Jeanette Traverso announced her verdict of not guilty against British businessman Shrien Dewani.

Traverso said the State had failed to prove its case against him.

Dewani was accused of masterminding the murder of his wife Anni Hindocha while on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

According to the Daily Mail it was the State’s obsession with gay sex, a questionable witness and a poor investigation, that ultimately led to Dewani's acquittal.

Throughout the trial, the State had relied heavily on the fact the Dewani was bisexual and the testimony of taxi driver Zola Tonga.

On countless occasions Traverso had questioned the importance of Dewani's sexuality in regards to his charges.

Traverso said during the ruling: “No reasonable court can convict the accused… Even if Dewani was a weak defence witness, I'm still left with a weak State case.”

She said there were too many unanswered questions about what happened on that fateful night. "I've heard the Hindocha family's plight. But I've taken oath to uphold rule of law. I can't let public opinion influence my judgment.”

The only way of convicting Dewani of being part of conspiracy would be if he incriminated himself, which isn't allowed, Traverso had said during the ruling.

As she made the announcement there were emotional outbursts from both Dewani and Anni's families, some of sorow and others of joy.

Let's look at some of the main reasons Dewani was acquitted and questions that will never be answered raised during the trial that will never be answered:

Dewani’s sexuality

Early in the trial Dewani gave a full disclosure of his sexuality, which seemed to have thrown the State's case off course.

After pursuing his sexuality as one of the motives for the killing the State was dealt setback when Traverso ordered that a potentially crucial witness, a German male escort, stand down, as his testimony was not considered relevant to the case.

The judge pointed out to the court, the fact that Dewani is bisexual and has had sexual relations with the escort and other men is common cause, and does not contribute anything new to the case, and nor does it suggest motive.

State prosecutor Adrian Mopp stumbled as he tried to explain that the escort would testify that Dewani could not find a way out of his upcoming marriage, and feared being disowned by his family.

However, Traverso did not accept this, sternly telling Mopp he could not tell her the evidence must be relevant, but rather he must say why it is relevant.

The world will never know the reason Dewani got married if he was admittedly bisexual, and why was he surfing gay websites while on honeymoon.

Poor witness

The only person Dewani spoke to directly about an alleged plan to kill his wife had revealed himself as a poor witness.

Sapa reported that Dewani's, lawyer Francois van Zyl, argued that Tongo was so poor on the stand that his client should be discharged of all criminal charges.

During the trial Van Zyl said "Mr Tongo proved himself to be a completely unreliable witness… Tongo's evidence was of such poor quality that it cannot be relied upon... There is no credible evidence on record upon which the court acting here may convict the accused."

It was believed that without Tongo as the crucial witness, there was no case.

While there may have been a conspiracy to kill Anni as a tourist, the defence felt there was no credible evidence to show their client was included.

The reason for why Tongo immediately call Monde Mbolombo to find hitmen will remain unanswered as will his role as the "middleman" to the honeymoon hijacking.


During the early stages of the investigation of Anni's murder, the court learned that the case was handled by low-ranking police officers and was later handed to the Hawks.

The policeman who took a witness statement during the trial was criticised for having a poor memory and not following procedure, according to Sapa.

Van Zyl cross-examined State witness Warrant Officer George Stefanus in the Western Cape High Court, on his involvement in the police investigation against his client.

Stefanus was the standby investigator on 13 November 2010 when he received a complaint about a hijacking in Gugulethu, Cape Town, and took a statement from Dewani to try and find the perpetrators.

The taxi was found in Khayelitsha in the early hours of 14 November 2010, with his wife Anni's body slumped on the backseat.

Van Zyl criticised Stefanus for not making an affidavit explaining that he extracted information from Dewani. He asked whether he still had his copy book with notes.

"My copy book, I went to go look for it and it is gone, lost. It was gone and we couldn't find it by the station," the policeman replied.

Van Zyl asked whether Dewani made an oath and was sworn in at the time.

Stefanus replied that he thought Dewani was sworn in by reading the oath and that he did not put in the "so help me God" part.

A new ballistics tests ordered during the trial had also cast doubt of who actually fired the shot that killed Anni.

Xolile Mngeni, who was sentenced for her death, had died of a brain tumour during Dewani’s trial, leaving another question unanswered.

Read more on:    anni hindocha  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  crime  |  dewani trial

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