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Judge bemoans Dewani trial delays

2012-08-23 18:01

Cape Town - A Western Cape High Court judge on Thursday bemoaned delays in the trial of a man accused of killing honeymoon tourist Anni Dewani.

Judge Robert Henney said he was not happy with the unnecessary time-wasting and bickering between the legal teams over paperwork in Xolile Mngeni's trial.

"I'm not happy with the delays," he said after a lengthy adjournment for the defence to consult.

"I'm also not happy with the pace this matter is running at this stage. A lot of these matters could have been shortened."

The judge said it was not fair that the State's third witness, fingerprint expert Warrant Officer Johan Hanekom, had to be kept away from his work for so long.

Mngeni was on trial for Dewani's murder in November 2010. She had been on honeymoon in Cape Town with her husband Shrien.

Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Hanekom had been on the stand since Tuesday, testifying that Mngeni was linked to the crime scene through his left palm print found on the vehicle in which Dewani was killed.

Matthews Dayimani, for Mngeni, had spent considerable time over the last two days questioning the credibility of the expert's finding.

The lawyer said the prints lifted off the car did not belong to the accused. He also said it was possible the fingerprint identification system used to make "a hit" could have been hacked into and prints altered.

At times, Hanekom and Dayimani entered into a stand-off during analysis of the crime scene prints.

Henney put it to Dayimani on Thursday that if Hanekom did not agree with his suggestions, he could do nothing else except get his own fingerprints expert to dispute the evidence.

The judge joked that Dayimani could alternatively take the stand as a fingerprints expert.

Mngeni's trial has been set down to run until September 21.

The trial continues.