Dewanis, Hindochas occupy opposite sides of court

2014-10-06 11:14
Shrien Dewani in the dock at the Western Cape High Court. (BBC, Twitter)

Shrien Dewani in the dock at the Western Cape High Court. (BBC, Twitter)

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Cape Town - The Dewani and Hindocha families are occupying opposite sides of court two at the Western Cape High Court, as Shrien Dewani pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

Shrien’s family, including his mother and father, seemed relatively calm and cheerful, chatting to his defence team and each other.

On the other side, Anni's family sat quietly and looked around.

Around 40 people packed the benches in the overhead public gallery.

British businessman Dewani has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife Anni in Cape Town in 2010, and other related charges.

"I plead not guilty to all five counts," he said in a clear voice in the Western Cape High Court.

Dewani, dressed in a black suit, tie and white shirt, stood in the dock and looked down at prosecutor Adrian Mopp. Mopp read out the charges in a loud, clear voice.

Dewani seemed calm, cocked his head slightly to listen and made fists with his hands. At times, he frowned slightly or looked away to the side.

Dewani is charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and conspiracy to commit these crimes. He is also charged with defeating the ends of justice.

Deputy Judge President Jeannette Traverso sat with her arms crossed and looked at the indictment in front of her. She was flanked by two assessors.

Two flat-screen television sets were set up in the front of the court. Two smaller screens were placed next to the prosecution and defence teams.

Dewani had his own flat-screen television fixed to the dock.

Dewani claims the couple were hijacked as they were being driven through Gugulethu in Cape Town in a minibus taxi. He was released unharmed but Anni was driven away. She was found shot dead in the abandoned minibus on Sunday, 14 November.

A series of delays played out over the next four years, punctuated by efforts to extradite Dewani to South Africa and consistent claims by his defence that he was innocent, and mentally unfit to stand trial.

In the same period, three Capetonians stood trial for the murder and were jailed.

Driver Zola Tongo said in a plea bargain - following which he was jailed for 18 years - that Dewani had offered him R15 000 to have Anni killed.

Accomplices Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni - who shot Anni - were handed 25-year and life sentences respectively.

Dewani was eventually extradited in April this year and sent to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital. In mid-August, he was declared fit to stand trial after undergoing psychiatric observation.

He will remain at the hospital for the duration of the trial.

Speaking at a press conference in Cape Town on Sunday evening, Anni's father Vinod Hindocha said the family wanted to know the truth about her death.

"Now that I am here, all that I ask for is the full story and justice. It is now up to the South African justice system to obtain the full story of how my little daughter died."

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

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