Minister wants lack of guilty verdicts probed

2014-12-09 05:15
(File: AFP)

(File: AFP)

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Johannesburg – Justice Minister Michael Masutha has requested a full report from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), detailing the investigation and prosecution of the Shrien Dewani case and the lack of guilty verdicts in two other prominent murders: The case against Oscar Pistorius and the investigation into the murder of Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa.

Masutha has demanded the report on why this and other high profile cases have been lost by State prosecutors after Dewani’s not guilty verdict was announced.

"He wants to reflect on how the system has fared in all these high profile cases that have been negatively reported," said Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesperson for justice ministry.

"Negative reporting to him means criticism of the system."

The family of Anni Hindocha, who attend Monday’s judgment said they will have sleepless nights for the rest of their lives.

Dewani was found not guilty by Judge Jeanette Traverso who said the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence.

He had been accused of arranging the murder of his wife Anni in 2010. He said she was killed during a botched hijacking.

Kelly Phelps, a legal expert from the University of Cape Town said the public outcry over the case did not mean Traverso's ruling was unfair. The judge's detailed ruling, read over three hours, was carefully considered, she said.

"The fault here lies with the preparation of the state's case, not the judge's handling of the case," said Phelps.

Traverso said "the evidence presented in this case falls far below" the threshold needed for a conviction so she found Dewani not guilty.

The British businessman promptly descended stairs leading out of the courtroom, but remained in custody until all the documents to free him were ready.

Members of the Dewani family burst into tears at the verdict, embracing each other, according to the British Press Association.

More questions than answers

Anni's family bowed their heads amid shouting from the public gallery.

"With the ending of the case against Shrien Dewani today, our family who are in Cape Town, return home with more questions than answers and sleepless nights for the rest of our lives," Ashok Hindocha, Anni's uncle, said in a statement.

The NPA said it still believes that Dewani orchestrated his wife's murder.

"It is unfortunate that Mr Dewani has been acquitted because we believe that he was involved," said Nathi Mncube, the NPA spokesperson.

"The court did not find that he was innocent. The court said it could not rely on the evidence given by three witnesses who themselves had been convicted of the crime."

Mncube denied that the case had collapsed because of a "shoddy police investigation”.

The State's key witness, Zola Tongo, said Dewani paid him to hire two men to carry out the murder.  Traverso said the evidence given by the men who have already been convicted for the murder, was riddled with inconsistencies.

The judge revoked the indemnity of a third man, a hotel receptionist who turned State witness after he was implicated in the murder.

"There were so many lies, mistakes and inconsistencies, that one simply cannot know where the lies end and where the truth begins," said Traverso, who delivered the ruling after deliberating for two weeks on the defence's application to dismiss the case. "There is no evidence upon which a reasonable court, acting carefully, can convict the accused."

In a statement read out to the court, Dewani said he is bisexual and frequented gay websites. The Hindocha family said Anni would not have married him "if she had known about his secret sex life”.

"We will now go through this case with our lawyers to confirm whether we can file a lawsuit against Shrien Dewani in the UK," Ashok Hindocha said in a statement.

Read more on:    npa  |  anni hindocha  |  oscar pistorius  |  michael masutha  |  senzo meyiwa  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  crime  |  dewani trial  |  pistorius trial

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